For immediate release | September 15, 2020

Banned Books Week 2020 Goes Virtual As Threats To Intellectual Freedom Continue

This Banned Books Week (Sept. 27 - Oct. 3) is an opportunity to rally for First Amendment protections and remain vigilant about continual threats to our freedom to read. With many organizations pivoting to virtual and social-distance learning and engagement, the American Library Association (ALA) is highlighting ways to easily participate virtually in this year’s event.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has documented threats to intellectual freedom during the pandemic, including a community member who advocated for erotic literature e-books to be banned from the local library; a petition that demanded virtual Drag Queen Story Times be canceled at the library; and the removal of two award-winning books that address police violence and racial discrimination from a required-reading list.

This year’s Banned Books Week theme — Censorship is a Dead End. Find Your Freedom to Read — draws attention to the barriers these censorship incidents enact, making it harder for readers to navigate the world and explore new perspectives. Free shareable graphics, coloring sheets, and cover photos can be found at Digital handouts and high-resolution spot art can be purchased from the ALA Store.

Each day of Banned Books Week, OIF will promote a different action that spotlights literary activism. Titled #BannedBooksWeek in Action, readers are encouraged to share their activities on social media with the hashtag, focusing on the following daily topics:

  • Sunday: Read a banned book
  • Monday: Speak out about censorship
  • Tuesday: Create something unrestricted
  • Wednesday: Express the freedom to read in style
  • Thursday: Write about your rights
  • Friday: Watch, listen, and learn from others
  • Saturday: Thank those who defend the freedom to read every day of the year

Activity ideas and promotional graphics are included on

To kick-off Banned Books Week on Sept. 27, OIF will publish the list of 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books From the Past Decade (2010-2019). Previous lists by decade can be found at

The annual Dear Banned Author letter-writing campaign encourages readers to write, tweet or email their favorite banned/challenged author during Banned Books Week. Postcards, author addresses and Twitter handles, and tips for hosting virtual programs can be found at Examples of letters and programs are published on the Intellectual Freedom Blog. Those who use #DearBannedAuthor on Twitter will be entered into a grand prize drawing of Banned Books Week merchandise. Details and Official Rules are listed on the Dear Banned Author webpage.

Since the inception of Banned Books Week in 1982, libraries and bookstores throughout the country have staged local read-outs of banned and challenged books. The Stand for the Banned Read-Out invites readers to submit brief videos of themselves reading from a banned book or discussing censorship. Submitted videos may be added to the Banned Books Week YouTube channel.

On Sept. 29, SAGE Publishing and OIF will host the free webinar “COVID-19 and Academic Censorship,” which will address e-books, internet control, and open data. The free webinar is limited to the first 1,000 guests.

On Oct. 2, OIF will host a national watch party of “Scary Stories,” a documentary about the banned and challenged series “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” by Alvin Schwartz, followed by a Q&A with director Cody Meirick on the Banned Books Week YouTube channel. Libraries and readers are invited to stream the documentary on Tubi or Amazon Prime at 6 p.m. CST and join the conversation on Twitter using #CensorshipisScary or on the Facebook event page. Libraries are invited to host their own watch parties as a Banned Books Week program; more details are available at

Additional program ideas are listed in the Intellectual Freedom Blog posts “40 Virtual Program Ideas for Banned Books Week” and “Banned Books Week Take Home Kits.” Questions about events can be directed to the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom at

To arrange for interviews with library leaders and experts from OIF, contact Macey Morales, deputy director, American Library Association (ALA) Communications and Marketing Office (CMO), at (312) 280-4393 or, or Steve Zalusky, communications specialist, ALA CMO, at (312) 280-1546 or

About the Office for Intellectual Freedom

The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the association’s basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials. Established in 1967, the office provides guidance, information and resources on a range of intellectual freedom subjects related to libraries and provides confidential support to anyone undergoing a material or service challenge.


Ellie Diaz

Program Officer

Office for Intellectual Freedom