Banned Books Week 2016 continues more than 30 years of celebrating – and protecting – the freedom to read. This freedom to choose what we read from the fullest array of possibilities is firmly rooted in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the amendment that guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Even as we enjoy a seemingly limitless and expanding amount of information, there is always a danger in someone else selecting what is available and to whom. Would-be censors from all quarters and political persuasions threaten our right to choose for ourselves.
The year’s Banned Book Week is focusing on the diversity of authors and ideas that have prompted a disproportionate share of challenges. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom estimates that more than half of all banned books are by authors of color or ones that represent groups of viewpoints outside the mainstream. When we speak up to protect the right to read, we not only defend our individual right to free expression, we demonstrate tolerance and respect for opposing points of view. When we take action to preserve our freedoms, we become participants in the ongoing evolution of our democratic society.