Celebrate Banned Books Week October 1-7, 2023

The VLA Intellectual Freedom Committee invites you to honor Banned Books Week, Oct. 1-7, 2023, themed "Let Freedom Read" by the American Library Association's 2023. Many libraries across the Commonwealth of Virginia will be hosting displays of banned books— books that while not completely eliminated from publication or distribution have been challenged and at times removed from libraries by government order. That some libraries find it politically unsafe to speak of “Banned Books” displays and need to use other terminology, such as "First Amendment" displays, provides a renewed justification for setting apart this week. Many libraries are also offering programming and activities, such as readings from banned books, to raise awareness about efforts to censor and the importance of standing for the right to read as a basic First Amendment and Civil right of all Americans.

We also invite you to read Nan Carmack's, VLA President-Elect, statement about Banned Books Week drafted by VLA’s President-Elect Nan Carmack, below.

Banned Books Week Oct 1 -7. 2023
 - Nan Carmack, President-Elect, Virginia Library Association
Banned Books Week serves not only to celebrate literature that disrupts comfortable thinking but also the very first idea that the founders of the United States of America added to our Constitution: The First Amendment. In asserting the freedom of speech to every person, our founders held sacred the notion that no one should be prevented from expressing or consuming ideas that others may find objectionable. Books that fall on the lists of banned or challenged books demonstrate the attempt by some to silence an author from expressing their ideas, their lived experience, their imagination. Bans and challenges also attempt to thwart the freedom of readers to explore the same ideas, experiences, and imaginings.
Dr. Rudine Bishop Simms, professor emeritus at Ohio State University, wrote a famed essay in which she likens books to “mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors.” These analogies demonstrate how literature can provide the reader with a reflection of themselves, a window into which they can view the experience of another, and very special books that allow us to step into another world entirely. In doing so, books have the power to help folks grow their capacity for empathy, understanding, and compassion.  
This week, we celebrate not only the value of literature that challenge our own experiences, but the American ideal of the freedom of speech, in which no one person or entity can tell us what we can and cannot read. This week, we celebrate the League of Women Voters standing up for the Freedom to Read. Which book will you choose to read in celebration?



356 unique book titles were challenged across Virginia in the first 8 months of 2023, according to the American Library Association. That's nearly twice the 182 titles that came under fire in the state in 2022, which was double the previous year's number.

-October 3, 2023