Association of American Publishers Supports
Banned Books Week

Thursday, 22 September 2011 | Andi Sporkin

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler was challenged in MO this year. Photo courtesy of Little, Brown

Washington, D.C.; September 22, 2011 — Book censorship violates First Amendment rights and constrains people’s inherent curiosity about the world around them, the Association of American Publishers noted in its support of national Banned Books Week, September 24-October 1. AAP also pointed to the internet and social media as valuable tools to provide readers, particularly parents, with rich information about content.

AAP, the trade association for the US publishing industry, is one of the 10 organizations sponsoring the popular annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.

Many AAP member publishing houses are also recognizing Banned Books Week with special web content and publications, social media, author essays, events and supplemental materials for librarians and teachers.

“The power of the written word has always served to unlock readers’ imaginations and encourage them to explore and understand cultures, concepts and worlds beyond their own,” said Tom Allen, President and CEO, AAP.

“There is arguably no more critical period in our recent history to embrace the freedom to read. It is essential to our democracy and inspires the ideas and creative solutions we seek to advance in a global society.”

Allen added that the vast range of user-friendly digital resources, along with the collaborative efforts of librarians and publishers, present the public with numerous credible options for evaluating suitability of content.

“The internet offers thoughtful information about books that speaks to individual and family tastes, concerns and values. Local librarians, supported by publishers, play a central role in guiding young people and their parents to appropriate titles. The days of one voice determining the appropriateness of content are gone,” he said.

The Banned Books Week celebration includes a Virtual Read-Out with authors and all kinds of readers and booklovers posting videos reading excerpts from favorite banned books on a dedicated Youtube channel. AAP members’ participation includes:

A cornerstone of Simon & Schuster’s Banned Books Week activities is a month-long competition for teens to “Write Your Own Manifesto” on a subject of importance to them. Produced in partnership with storytelling site wattpad.com, the contest grows out of bestselling author Ellen Hopkins’ “Manifesto,” a poem conveying her passion for the freedom of speech. Contest rules and current submissions are here. Hopkins is also making a Banned Books Week appearance at the New York Public Library’s Teen Program. The publisher has created a new landing page with extensive information, author comments and reader interactivity, with additional visibility on Kids.SimonandSchuster.com SimonandSchuster.com SimonandSchuster.net and the Unshelved.com website and e-newsletter for teachers and librarians. It is also offering a digital catalog of banned and challenged titles for booksellers, schools and libraries.

Random House Academic is promoting Banned Books Week through Twitter @RHhighschool with links to RHI Censorship Magazine and selected works by such authors as Maya Angelou, Ray Bradbury and Billy Collins. The magazine is also available in print and as a PDF at http://www.randomhouse.com/highschool/rhi.html

Through its network of social media channels, Scholastic highlights prominent award-winning books that have been challenged. Scholastic’s “On Our Minds” blog features a slideshow of banned book covers.

Many Little, Brown and Company authors have created videos for the Virtual Read-Out and the publisher is using social media to encourage participation in the Read-Out among authors, educators, librarians and readers. Author Sarah Ockler, whose Twenty Boy Summer young adult title was recently banned by a school district in Missouri, is making personal appearances in Indianapolis and Springfield, MO (Springfield1 and Springfield2)

About Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 by the Association of American Publisher, American Library Association and American Booksellers Association in response to a growing number of attempts to remove or restrict access to books in libraries, classrooms and bookstores.

Its sponsors have since expanded to include 10 important organizations representing teachers, authors, journalists, college bookstores and anti-censorship groups. And since its launch, more than 11,000 books have been challenged in the US.

Held annually the last week in September, Banned Books Week is a true national grassroots effort. Hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country produce displays of challenged books and host a variety of events including local read-outs of targeted titles.

Publishers and authors join in with materials, essays and appearances. Banned Books Week has moved to the web as well: along with the YouTube virtual read-outs, there are online auctions and a web-based interview series. More information about local and national activities can be found at http://bannedbooksweek.org/

About AAP

The Association of American Publishers is the national trade association for the US publishing industry, with membership that spans producers of commercial, educational, professional and scholarly content in all formats.

AAP is active in First Amendment issues including the Freedom to Read with legislative advocacy at the state and federal levels. It has participated as plaintiff or friend-of-the-court in free speech cases for more than four decades and produces educational programs with other anti-censorship organizations for librarians, booksellers and authors. The AAP Freedom to Read Committee serves as the publishing industry’s watchdog on a wide-ranging slate of free speech-related issues.

As a founding sponsor of Banned Books Week, AAP is committed to the goal of mobilizing public support for the continued availability of the widest possible variety of books and reading materials, including those that put forth controversial or unpopular views.