The last week of September (this year September 30 – October 6) is Banned Book Week in the USA. Hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country erect displays of challenged and banned books, and host events and educational seminars in an attempt to draw attention to the problem of censorship. First begun in 1982 as a reaction to the steep increase of book challenges in schools, bookstores, and libraries, this ‘holiday’ of sorts is the only national celebration focusing on the freedom to read.
This is a fantastic idea, but why does it appear to only be Americans who’ve decided this is an important enough phenomenon to have an annually allocated space of time for recognition? It isn’t as if the United States is the only country where this has happened. Given that governments around the world have, at some point in time or another, banned a book from its populous, it stands to reason that there are individuals OUTSIDE The States who also would like to participate in such a celebration in the belief that one should have the freedom to read without restriction by the state. In addition, staunch Human Rights supporters should also be clamouring for a chance to participate in such an event, as censorship is certainly a violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as various pieces of the International Coveneant of Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenenant of Cultural, Economic, and Social Rights. Therefore, I propose that those of us with a computer, a love of books, a desire to always learn more and maintain the right to information should get in on this!
What can we do? LOTS!
For starters, there is the Virtual Readout which is the now online version of the traditional community readouts that are often hosted by local bookstores and libraries during BBW. Supporters can upload a brief video of themselves reading from their favorite banned/challenged book.
They ask that your video submission be no longer than 2 minutes (120 seconds) in length, and that you include information about why the book was banned or challenged. I suggest we also include our country of origin to help underscore the fact that this is a global interest, and choose books from our home country which are/were banned or challenged.
On top of that, you can take a leaf out of the American Library Association’s book (haha, pun definitely intended here), and get your local bookstore, book club, library, etc to host an evening event!
However you choose to participate, I want to know about it! Take pictures and send them to me with a caption/brief description of what you did and I’ll post them here. Tag your tweets with #GlobalBBW, and I’ll be sure to retweet you! If you post a Virtual Readout, send me the link to your video on the BBW youtube channel, I’ll be sure to include it during my posts for that week.
The right to read is something we should all be able to enjoy!
Readers of the world, let’s do this!