Local libraries celebrate Banned Books Week

Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 4:19 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Local libraries are using Banned Books Week to spread the message about books that have been taken off school shelves or challenged by a community member.

Jennifer Cook, a General Studies Librarian and Library Services Instructor at CVTC explains why this week is important.

“Just to get the awareness out there of what Banned Book Weeks is, what libraries stand for, and just let people know that it’s okay for them to read what they want to read. And so we celebrate the books instead of trying to put them on a shelf where no one can see them”, says Cook.

Cook says challenged books have increased by over 30% since 2021. Dr. Sue Fondrie, a Professor in the Department of Education for Equity and Justice at UWEC explains the difference between banned and challenged books.

“Banned books are books that have actually been censored and removed from shelves. And then the other type of book is a challenge book where somebody says, ‘I don’t really like the idea of my child reading this book, so I’m going to put a challenge forward to the library or to the school district’. And the goal of that is to stop their child from reading it or interacting with it in the classroom. And then the next step from that would be to actually have it actively removed from the classroom itself or from the library shelves”, says Dr. Fondrie.

There is a trend in the reasoning behind why some books are banned or challenged.

“Mostly right now we’re seeing people of color. Our LGBTQ communities are really the the communities of marginalized people”, says Cook.

“More LGBTQ oriented. Anything with police issues in it, such as police violence or anything with race or racism in part of the storyline”, says Dr. Fondrie.

Even popular books are banned from certain libraries.

“Harry Potter was banned because it promotes witchcraft and sorcery, which is an uncomfortable topic for some people. A Where’s Waldo book on the other side in one of the illustrations in one of the books has a woman sunbathing. And so that’s the reason that book was challenged”, says Cook.

Other popular banned books include Little Women, The Diary of Anne Frank, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Dr. Fondrie says that all libraries have a say in what books they offer and that is decided by a library board.

A list of the top 13 most challenged books of 2022 can be found at https://bannedbooksweek.Org/about/