This year, Banned Books Week is October 1 – 7. Usually held during the last week of September, this annual event began in 1982. The book community had noticed a significant uptick in the number of books being banned from schools, libraries, and bookstores and rallied together to launch this observance.
This year’s theme is “Let Freedom Read!” According to the website, “By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.”
President of the American Library Association (ALA) Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada said the 2023 theme “captures what’s at stake for our democracy: that the safety of our right to speak and think freely is directly in proportion to our right to read.”
“ALA encourages libraries in every context to mark Banned Books Week by inviting other groups within their communities to celebrate and take action to protect our freedom to read all year long,” continued Pelayo-Lozada.
Both educators and advocates of free-speech say that “books often simply acknowledge the existence of different identities.” It is in fact “crucial…to help young children develop empathy and an understanding of themselves — especially for children whose families include people of color or LGBTQ+ relatives.”
Given that books are so important and especially for young readers, ESSENCE is featuring one that you can read to your little one in the cradle.
Baby’s First Book of Banned Books is a new book from Mudpuppy, a company that creates innovative children’s toys, puzzles, games, and books.
As Mudpuppy’s Publisher Bill Miller told ESSENCE, “Mudpuppy is proud to publish Baby’s First Book of Banned Books. With the increasing number of books being removed from school library shelves, this book offers parents the opportunity to make children aware of these important titles and the idea behind each. We believe every parent and child together should have the right to choose for themselves what they can read.”
This board book introduces young ones to Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, The Diary of Anne Frank, and To Kill A Mockingbird and other commonly banned books. Alongside the illustrations are short messages inspired by the plot of the books. In addition, the book also has a glossary at the end, which includes a summary of each of the books depicted.
Per the publisher, this book is aimed at providing “young children with a captivating and engaging way to learn key lessons from infamous classic banned books.”