Banned Books Week: Readers aspire to challenge censorship through literature

This year, Banned Books Week is celebrated from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3. (File Photo by Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

“Censorship is a dead end. Find your freedom to read!”

The theme for 2020’s annual Banned Books Week encourages reading as a way of challenging censorship. This year, Banned Books Week runs from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3.

Censorship is the suppression or prohibition of any media that is considered obscene or threatening to society.

The event began in 1982, when institutions started banning books they didn’t feel were appropriate for students and library-goers.

The American Booksellers Association started Banned Books Week — it eventually garnered around 50,000 participating members, joining in hopes of restoring people’s right to free reading.

Liam Shearon, junior in organizational management, said he believes censorship is necessary in some cases, but not all.

“I think schools should be allowed to censor what is available to students, but they should still have access to everything through public libraries,” Shearon said.

Students should, however, be able to read whatever books they want on school grounds, Shearon said.

“I don’t think teachers and administrators should be able to tell kids they can’t be reading something in the school,” he said. “I think they should be allowed to read whatever they want, but it’s ok if they get it from somewhere else and are reading it there.”

Today, writers, teachers, librarians and more are trying to fight censorship and shed light on its drawbacks through Banned Books Week.

The Banned Books Week website lists 29 events hosted nationally, either at libraries or held virtually to discuss the issue of censorship in literature.

The infamous Harry Potter series by author J.K. Rowling accounts for seven of many books that have been banned at some institutions.

The fictional series recounts the troubled life of a young wizard who discovers his powers and goes to study at the greatest school of witchcraft and wizardry in the world.

Despite its status as one of the most beloved book series in the world, many schools banned Harry Potter because of its references to witchcraft and the characters’ questionable intentions.

“I do not think that series should be included on the list because it’s literally a fictional children’s book, and it really shouldn’t be considered controversial,” Shearon said. “That is taking their power to censor books too far.”

The series has been a major topic of discussion since 1999, especially in religious schools, due to its direct ties to witchcraft.

While censorship will likely always exist in schools and libraries, thousands of people are celebrating Banned Books Week as an opportunity to speak out and express the importance of the freedom to read.

Hey! I’m Maddie Daniel and I am a junior in mass communications. This semester, I'm the assistant culture editor and have previously served as a staff writer. After I graduate, I plan to go to law school to pursue a career in Federal Indian Law. I love art, history and anything outdoors.