If your computer was turned on last week and you’re at all tuned into the comics scene, then you’ve probably heard that the Banned Books Week planning committee and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) are teaming up to bring us BBW with a twist: Banned Comics Week. Frankly, I think this mash-up is inspired. Not only does it shake things up a bit in terms of which books we’ll be focusing on this year, but it gives libraries, schools, and bookstores a chance to rethink how they usually present information to their students and customers about an individual’s right to read, no matter the subject, no matter the genre, no matter the format.
I’m pretty excited to see what comes out of this new partnership. I know more information about banned and challenged comics, programming ideas for BBW, and information about the graphic novel format will be forthcoming in the next few months. In the meantime, i’ve pasted the official press release below. I’d love to hear what you have planned for BBW based on this new direction for the campaign. Feel free to let us know in the comments section.
New York – The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), with the national Banned Books Week planning committee, today announced that this year’s celebration of the freedom to read will emphasize a thematic focus on comics and graphic novels. This year’s Banned Books Week, Sept. 21 – 27, will shine a light on this still misunderstood form of storytelling and will celebrate the value of graphic novels to readers from all walks of life through the work performed by Banned Books Week sponsors and individual librarians, retailers and readers from all over the world.
“This year we spotlight graphic novels because, despite their serious literary merit and popularity as a genre, they are often subject to censorship,” said Judith Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week National Committee.
Recently, the acclaimed memoir Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, has been the flashpoint in a university funding controversy in South Carolina, while last year Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, faced an attempted ban in the Chicago Public Schools. Graphic novels continually show up on the American Library Association’s (ALA) Top 10 list of Frequently Challenged Books. The ALA released its current list in April and includes Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants at the top spot and Jeff Smith’s series Bone arriving at #10.
“The CBLDF is pleased to be a part of the coalition that makes Banned Books Week such a vital time to celebrate the freedom to read,” said CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein. “It’s shocking that books are still banned and challenged. Comics are especially vulnerable to those challenges. With this year’s Banned Books Week focus, we welcome the opportunity to engage the public in a vital dialogue about intellectual freedom and the powerful role comics serve.”
Banned Books Week celebrates the Freedom to Read by encouraging readouts, displays, and community activities designed to raise awareness of the ongoing threats of censorship that continue to occur.
CBLDF.org offers a broad range of resources about banned and challenged comics, as well as tools that libraries, retailers and individuals can use to develop their own Banned Books Week celebrations. For an introduction to banned books and Banned Books Week, visit CBLDF’s FAQ: Banned Books Week 101.
Bannedbooksweek.org is a hub for information about how individuals and institutions can become involved in celebrating this important event. The website also includes resources and activities provided by event sponsors.
Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of College Stores, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN American Center, and Project Censored.