Banned Books Week

Time to celebrate the freedom to read! Banned Books Week is celebrated from September 21 – 27. According to the American Library Association, Banned Books Week “highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community – librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types – in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”

This year the focus for Banned Books Week has turned to comics and graphic novels. In 1842 the first graphic novel, The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck was published in the United States. These started off as humorous newspaper comics, and quickly became one of the most adored forms of entertainment. In 1938 the comic industry was revolutionized by the publication known as Action Comics #1, which starred none other than Superman. Since this time, we have seen the spread of comics, everything from DC’s Watchmen and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, to Marvel’s X-Men and Jeff Lemire’s Essex County. Since this time, comics have been contested for their content. Some of our most beloved superheroes; Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman have regularly been challenged for being too violent and for glorifying fighting. Librarians are on the forefront of a community of people who are trying to dispute this belief about comics, and promote them as valid library content.

Here are some of the graphic novels (possibly surprisingly) that are the most commonly challenged:

spark3 Jeff Smith’s Bone series

download (1)Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis

abcGene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese

The idea of promoting Banned Books Week is to show people the importance of reading, and not removing or restricting the communities’ access to books. We encourage people to celebrate the fact that libraries make content available for all people, and to the harms of censorship on reading material.

Here are some more titles of books that are reported and contested most often:

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

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