As you (should) know, Banned Books Week is an annual campaign that celebrates the freedom to read, recognizes current and historical attempts at censoring books, and highlights persecuted individuals.
You could probably list a few titles that were famously banned and censored in the past—Persepolis, Brave New World, The Satanic Verses, Lolita, The Glass Castle are some of the first that come to mind.
But censorship is an ongoing battle both in the United States and abroad as writers continue to explore uncomfortable and unorthodox topics. In 2017, in the United States, 416 books were banned or challenged and that’s just the reported number.
#BannedBooksWeek starts today! Celebrate the freedom to read and raise awareness about the harms of censorship. Learn more about speaking out for banned books: https://t.co/Fj7UDumlkM 📢 pic.twitter.com/4BWCt5qhXx
— ALA OIF (@OIF) September 23, 2018
In support of this good fight, we’ve rounded up 13 quotes from authors on the importance of freedom of speech and why we must fight censorship.
“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”―Salman Rushdie
“What I worry about is, that in an effort to protect students, we may be taking away the tools they need to protect themselves later on.”—Jeannette Walls
“No one should have the power to decide what other people’s kids may or may not read.”—Lisa McMann
“A word to the unwise.
Torch every book.
Char every page.
Burn every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear.”
― Ellen Hopkins
“Banning books is just another form of bullying. It’s all about fear and an assumption of power. The key is to address the fear and deny the power.”—James Howe
“Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance.”―Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”―Haruki Murakami
“If there’s one American belief I hold above all others, it’s that those who would set themselves up in judgment on matters of what is ‘right’ and what is ‘best’ should be given no rest; that they should have to defend their behavior most stringently…. As a nation, we’ve been through too many fights to preserve our rights of free thought to let them go just because some prude with a highlighter doesn’t approve of them.” [Bangor Daily News, Guest Column, March 20, 1992]―Stephen King
“Yes, books are dangerous. They should be dangerous—they contain ideas.”―Pete Hautman
“Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.”―Isaac Asimov
“Banning books gives us silence when we need speech. It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight.”―Stephen Chbosky
“A dangerous book will always be in danger from those it threatens with the demand that they question their assumptions. They’d rather hang on to the assumptions and ban the book.”―Ursula K. Le Guin, The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination
“Censors don’t want children exposed to ideas different from their own. If every individual with an agenda had his/her way, the shelves in the school library would be close to empty.”―Judy Blume