Another way to visualize the frequent occurrence of book banning is through a map originally created by members of the National Coalitiion Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. Now maintained by the ALA, the points on the map represent the number of challenges per state. Viewing the map illustrates the frequency of cases throughout the United States.
Limiting or denying access to information bars the public from being exposed to various perspectives. In schools, students need to learn about all sides of an issue before making an informed decision. In order to become critical thinkers, we must ensure that different voices and perspectives are heard. Will banning Alice Walker, James Baldwin, Ernest Hemingway, and Truman Capote somehow maintain our nation's morality? Or does encouraging the public, both students and adults, to read such important works result in well-rounded, tolerant people? Controversial topics may make us cringe, but they also force us to consider vastly different viewpoints before arriving at a decision. Banning books from public libraries, school libraries, and curricula stifles such freedom of information and expression.
Send a message about your your freedom to read by submitting your two-minute clip to the Banned Books Week YouTube channel. Check the events page on Banned Book Week's website to learn how you can participate in the week-long activities. For the latest information, or to help promote awareness of this special week, visit their Facebook and Twitter sites; be sure to us social media to spread the word. Finally—and perhaps most importantly—pick up one of the banned books to read on your own. You may discover a new favorite author, or rediscover one you came across years ago. No matter what, just engaging in the act of reading celebrates the right to encounter different perspectives, and assess their soundness for ourselves.