‘Censorship Is a Dead End’: Banned Books Week 2020 theme announced!

April 20, 2020

FIRE is proud to join the Banned Books Week Coalition in announcing the theme for the 2020 celebration of the right to read. This year’s theme, “Censorship Is a Dead End,” is meant to bring awareness to the benefits of open access to literature and information. The celebration will take place Sept. 27 – Oct. 3, 2020. From the coalition’s press release

Since it was founded in 1982, Banned Books Week has helped people recognize and navigate censorship, and the battle for free expression is unending. Reading brings people together, but censorship drives us apart. The theme of this year’s event, “Censorship Is a Dead End,” is a reminder that we need to fight censorship to “Find Our Freedom to Read.” This year’s celebration embraces a maze motif, an attainable and customizable idea that offers publishers, booksellers, librarians, educators, journalists, and others an opportunity to engage with their communities in a variety of ways, from passive programing to big events.

Just today, in honor of National Library Week, the American Library Association released its Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2019 list. This past year, the ALA saw “377 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services” targeting 566 books.

The coalition will be hosting a Facebook Live kickoff event on their page this Wednesday, April 22 at 1 p.m. ET with Laurie Halse Anderson, author of the frequently challenged novel “Speak,” and will feature an exclusive statement from David Levithan, author of the challenged novel “Two Boys Kissing.” 

The Banned Books Week Coalition also includes American Booksellers Association; American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of University Presses; Authors Guild; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; Freedom to Read Foundation; Index on Censorship; National Coalition Against Censorship; National Council of Teachers of English; PEN America; People For the American Way Foundation; and Project Censored. It is also endorsed by the Library of Congress Center for the Book and receives generous support from DKT Liberty Project and Penguin Random House.

FIRE has been an official coalition member for two years and has long defended the right to read on campus. We are excited to see how university libraries embrace this theme next fall, and we encourage our supporters to join us in championing open access to literature. As most of us are spending more time at home, there’s never been a better time to check out a banned or challenged book from one of the free platforms available through most public libraries.