Why Banned Books Week Matters to Indie Booksellers

Banned Books Week highlights the American Library Association’s (ALA) Top 10 Most Challenged Books from the previous year. In 2021, ALA tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services. This resulted in nearly 1,600 individual book challenges or removalsthe highest figures ALA has ever seen.

While efforts to ban books have intensified, booksellers are protecting the rights of readers. Read on for why Banned Books Week matters to our bookseller partners, and check out frequently challenged audiobooks.

“Banned Books Week is a chance to remind people that books have power. And fighting censorship ensures that all stories and experiences, expecially those from marginalized groups, are heard and available.”

Kristin Saner, Fables Books (Goshen, IN)

“Banned Books Week is a time to center global attention on books that are being challenged by our communities. For me it’s a time to remember how our curriculums and communities continue to grow and change, no matter what resistance to the changes may exist.

Aimee, The Bluestocking Bookshop (Holland, MI)

“[It’s] simultaneously a celebration of really good books that make you feel like a rebel for reading, and also a spreading of awareness for the censorship happening in schools and libraries by people who don’t read.”

Ryan Elizabeth Clark, Gibson’s Bookstore (Concord, NH)

“[It] puts the highlight on books that many of us took for granted that everyone would be able to read if they wanted to.”

Sandi Cararo, The Book Dragon Shop (Staunton, VA)

“[It’s a] chance to showcase books that likely changed someone’s life for the better. A chance to reaffirm our commitment not to silence marginalized voices.

Nzingha Nommo, Afriware Books, Co (Maywood, IL)

“Banned Books Week is an opportunity to educate people about book banning, highlight banned books and their reason for banning, and fighting for access to books and representation IN book for all. In Idaho, where book banning is on the rise, it means “Sticking it to the Ban” in any way possible–through bumper stickers, t-shirts, banned book giveaways, etc.”

Rebecca Leber-Gottberg, Rediscovered Books (Boise & Caldwell, ID)

“When we ban books because they feature stories and ideas that make some folks feel uncomfortable, we compromise our children’s education and development. When we choose to try and lock away stories and experiences because we don’t understand them or they scare us we stunt children’s curiosity about the world and other people.

Books can give children a glimpse of the world far beyond what they actually see and experience every day. They not only show us what is possible, but they challenge us to rethink what we know and therefore what we imagine is possible.

Stories that represent people that are different from a child’s everyday experiences have been shown to foster empathy for others because there are universal human experiences, like joy, fulfillment, pride, grief, disappointment, and fear that children learn to understand when they see others having these experiences.

Tom Batterson, New Story Community Books (Marshall, MI)

“It is important to me that we remember that there are titles out there that we may not be exposed to for one reason or another. Banned Books Week reminds us to search out those titles and to possibly investigate why they were not available to us, or, if they are available to us to appreciate the avenues that made them so.”

Denise Phillips, Gathering Volumes (Perrysburg, OH)

“It is a potent reminder of the preciousness of our freedom of speech, as well as a nudge to expand your reading horizons to include viewpoints different from your own.”

Robin Stern, Books Inc. (Campbell, CA)

“In one word: discussion. What you’ve read, not read, why not, why was the book banned…”

Suzanne Droppert, Lemolo Books (Poulsbo, WA)

“Reading banned books means that I get to self educate on topics that wouldn’t otherwise be discussed or spoken about.”

Kelsey Black, The Book Burrow (Pflugerville, TX)

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