Advocacy Update – Banned Book Week by Judy Caplan

Let Freedom Read!

Banned Books Week is October 1 – 7, 2023

Whether it’s Toni Morrison’s Beloved that opened your heart in high school English class or Michelle Alexander’s New Jim Crow that powered a generation of people to fight against mass incarceration, so many of us have been transformed by a book that’s currently on a banned book list.

But it’s more than books. These bans represent a larger swath of chilling authoritarian-style policies that are affecting communities across the country, seeking to divide us along lines of difference, particularly race, and sexuality.

According to PEN America, in the 2022–23 school year, there have been 3,362 instances of book bans in US public school classrooms and libraries. These bans removed student access to 1,557 unique book titles–the works of more than 1,480 authors, illustrators, and translators. Authors whose books are targeted are most frequently female, people of color, and/or LGBTQ+ individuals.

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Here are some ideas to fight back against book bans!

The freedom to read is under attack — let’s do something about it!

On October 7, 2023, we’re asking everyone to take at least one action to help defend books from censorship and to stand up for the library staff, educators, writers, publishers, and booksellers who make them available!

Show us how you’re taking action on social media by using the hashtags #LetFreedomReadDay and #BannedBooksWeek!

And don’t forget: Censorship won’t stop just because Banned Books Week does — you can take action any day of the year! Save this email for future reference.  

If you have 5 minutes:

Call a decision-maker

  • Call school and library administrators, school board and library board members, city councilpersons, and your elected representatives to ask them to support the right to read!
  • Resources: Unite Against Book Bans Action Toolkit: Talking Points and/or Find and Contact Elected Officials (
  • Support an advocacy organization
    • The organizations in the Banned Books Week Coalition work tirelessly to defend your right to access information. Support them by following them on social media, signing up for their email lists, or making a donation. Learn more about the members of the Coalition here.
    • Join Unite Against Book Bans – The Banned Books Week Coalition is a proud partner in Unite Against Book Bans, a national campaign to protect the rights of everyone to access information. Unite provides a comprehensive toolkit, supports those fighting censorship in their communities with advice and resources, and sends targeted messages to mobilize advocates in areas that need it. Add your name here!

If you have 15 minutes

  • Check out a banned book – Circulation Matters! Checking out banned books or books about topics that are frequently targeted for censorship proves that the community is interested in reading them. Library staff can use circulation data to support keeping the books on shelves when they are challenged and to justify ordering more books by the same authors or on the same topic
  • Buy a banned book – Censorship doesn’t just harm libraries and schools; it also impacts writers, publishers, and booksellers. Writers have had school visits canceled. Publishers and booksellers are encountering more obstacles to working with schools and libraries. One way you can support the people who make and sell books is to buy them!

Do you want to help others access banned books? You can donate the books you purchase to:

  • Public and school libraries: Contact your local library or school to find out what they need and how to donate.
  • Little Free Library: Use the free LFL mobile app to find a Little Free Library book-sharing box near you!
  • Fundraisers: Many public libraries have friends of the library groups that use donated books to raise money for the library.
  • A banned book giveaway or bookmobile: Call your local bookstore to see if they may be hosting a giveaway or supporting a bookmobile. The New Republic is accepting book donations for the Banned Books Tour 2023 bookmobile. Contact them here.


Spread the Word

Download the two-page 2022 Infographic

13 Most Banned Books

 When we all work together for justice so much is possible.