Banned Books Week

Established in 1982, Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community in shared support of the freedom to read.
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“This is a dangerous time for readers and the public servants who provide access to reading materials. Readers, particularly students, are losing access to critical information, and librarians and teachers are under attack for doing their jobs.”
- Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in libraries, bookstores, and schools. By focusing on efforts to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. Typically (but not always) held during the last week of September, the annual event highlights the value of free and open access to information and brings together the entire book community — librarians, educators, authors, publishers, booksellers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas.

In a time of intense political polarization, library staff in every state are facing an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books. ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom documented 1,247 demands to censor library books and resources in 2023. The number of titles targeted for censorship surged 65% in 2023 compared to 2022, reaching the highest levels ever documented by OIF in more than 20 years of tracking: 4,240 unique book titles were targeted for removal from schools and libraries. This tops the previous high from 2022, when 2,571 unique titles were targeted for censorship. Titles representing the voices and lived experiences of LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC individuals made up 47% of those targeted in censorship attempts.

The theme for Banned Books Week 2024 (September 22-28) is "Freed Between the Lines." We can find freedom in the pages of a book — but book bans and censorship threaten that freedom, along with many other rights and institutions. During Banned Books Week 2024 and beyond, let’s share our love of right to read and the freedom found in books. Let’s be Freed Between the Lines!

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Unite Against Book Bans is a national initiative to empower readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship. Take action and defend the right to read for all Americans.

Join the Campaign

About Book Bans and Challenges

Books are still being banned and challenged today. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.

While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

The most challenged books of 2023. For lists of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books for each year, visit the Top 10 Most Challenged Books Archive.

ALA compiles data on book challenges from reports filed with its Office for Intellectual Freedom by library professionals in the field and from news stories published throughout the United States.

The American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom data documents book challenges throughout the United States, finding that challenges of unique titles surged in 2023.

Banned Books Week Programming and Resources

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Displays

Banned book displays kick-off conversations about censorship and inspire readers to explore challenged materials. Check out some display ideas from libraries across the U.S. — some of which only require construction paper and an imagination.

Get Inspired

Other Resources

Banned Books Week Q&A

This resource offers issues, strategies, and resources for preparing your professional community (teacher librarians and public librarians) to celebrate Banned Books Week.

Banned Books Week Coalition

The Banned Books Week Coalition, which includes OIF, is an international alliance of diverse organizations joined by a commitment to increase awareness about censorship attempts and to encourage the defense of the freedom to read. The Coalition website includes downloads, resources, and an event calendar that anyone can use.

A History of Banned Books Week

Read about the history of Banned Books Week and ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom in American Libraries Magazine.


Media Inquiries

For media inquiries or to schedule an interview related to Banned Books Week or other ALA intellectual freedom initiatives, contact ALA's Communications and Marketing Office.