Published: Sept. 27, 2021

Each September since 1982, libraries have defended access to diverse information by drawing attention to threats against the right to read. The University of Colorado Boulder Libraries join other publishers, booksellers, libraries and schools in recognizing Banned Books Week. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. Join our fight for the right to read! 

Banned Books Week 2021 will be held September 26 – October 2. The theme of this year’s event is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.”

Ways to Participate:

 Visit our display of banned books on display at the Norlin Library East Entrance between September 26 and October 2.

 Stop by our table at the East Entrance on Thursday, September 30 to learn more.

 Explore our banned books guide to see the most frequently challenged books.

This year, the inaugural honorary chair of Banned Books Week is author Jason Reynolds. He has written over a dozen books for young people, including All American Boys (with Brendan Kiely), Ghost, Long Way Down, Patina, Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks,and Stamped (with Ibram X. Kendi). A multiple National Book Award finalist, Reynolds has also received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, an NAACP Image Award, and several Coretta Scott King Award honors. He is currently serving a two-year term as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for the Library of Congress.

Reynolds’s acclaimed novels aren’t immune from censorship. All American Boys and Stamped, both of which address racism and police brutality, have been frequently challenged and are among the American Library Association’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2020. ALA’s Top 10 list demonstrates a growing trend towards challenging stories by Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. Given that several state legislatures are considering laws that would limit instruction related to antiracism and social justice, this year’s Banned Book Week is especially prescient.

“To censor a book is to damage the framework in which we live,” Reynolds said, speaking to the Banned Books Coalition in April. “Any time we eliminate or wall off certain narratives, we are not getting a whole picture of the world in which we live. And navigating the world in a way that is closed-off, closed-minded, is poisonous. It means that we limit our vocabulary, which complicates how we communicate with one another. We have to celebrate stories and ensure that all books have a space on the shelves and the opportunity to live in the psyches of our children, as they grow into the human beings who will inherit this wonderful place.” 

“Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association,