Read a banned book, celebrate Banned Books Week


Calista Ancog

The Harry Potter Series was part of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books list in 2019

Caylen Maria Corpuz, with additional reporting from Jameson Huang, Digital Media Content Editor and staff writer

In support of free expression, readers across the nation are observing Banned Books Week. Established in 1982, Banned Books Week was created to raise awareness of censorship and fight against it. 

Banning books isn’t anything new to America, but readers and educators believe the problem is more urgent than ever. In Bonners Ferry, Idaho, community members are participating in peaceful protests. 

Bonners Ferry resident Billie Jo Klaniecki said, “We’re having a read-in in support of the library…we’re here being very quiet and polite.” 

Klaniecki’s local library is currently under pressure due to a group of activists who are demanding the library ban more than 400 books from its shelves. Many of these books include topics of gender and sexuality. 

Residents of Bonners Ferry aren’t the only individuals taking action against the growing problem. Many famous authors and influencers are using their status on media platforms to shed light on the threats of censorship. 

Neil Gaiman, a sci-fi and fantasy author, often uses his social media accounts to promote libraries and literacy programs.  After a Tennessee school banned “Maus” a graphic novel about the Holocaust, Gaiman was very vocal about his disapproval. 

“There’s only one kind of people who would vote to ban Maus,” Gaiman wrote in a commentary article, “whatever they are calling themselves these days. 

Moanalua High School students are also advocating for the goals of Banned Books Week. Junior Erin Winfield-Smith, a passionate reader, joined in on the event. 

“I believe that everyone should read whatever they want, regardless of the controversy of different books,” she said, “even though I haven’t read any banned books, I still 100% support this movement, she said of efforts to fight book banning.

“Writing is a form of freedom of speech, whether it’s for those who are for those topics, or against those topics, to ban those books means to silence someone’s voices,” said junior Daysha Gonzalez. 

According to data from the American Library Association, about half of the censorship attempts in 2020 were from parents, the next 20 percent being from library patrons, 11 percent from board members and administration, and the last 19 percent from religious, political, and miscellaneous groups. 

As an educator, Moanalua’s AP Language teacher, Kymberly McKay, said, “If we ban books for the content inside of them we might as well ban other types of entertainment as well.” 

Chemistry teacher Roy Huff, who is also a best-selling author of several science fiction novels, frowns on attempts to ban books. 

“In general, I believe that libraries should be open to all books,” he said. 

Huff added that while he didn’t know about the specific circumstances around each protest across the country, he is and always has been, a proponent of free speech.

With the intent to stop these groups from preserving censorship, Banned Books Week has become a significant event for readers and advocates of free expression. Amongst the crowd of supporters is children’s author and host of “Reading Rainbow” LeVar Burton.

During an interview on “The View” this past summer, Burton spoke up about the increasing amount of book bans and their detrimental effects.

“We have this aversion in this country to knowing about our past, and anything unpleasant we don’t want to deal with. This is not going away. Nothing goes away, especially if you ignore it. So read the books they’re banning. That’s where the good stuff is,” Burton said. 

Banned Books Week runs from the week of September 18 to September 24.