NCTE Highlights Banned Books Week - NCTE
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NCTE Highlights Banned Books Week

This post is by NCTE staff member Sarah Miller.

NCTE is a long-time sponsor of the Banned Books Week Coalition. Staff time and financial resources are consistently allocated to further the work of the Coalition.

Banned Books Week, held annually since 1982, celebrates the Freedom to Read. It brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. As a member of the Banned Books Week Coalition and as a literacy organization advocating for books and educators, this work is central to NCTE. 

This year, Banned Books Week starts on September 18 and ends on September 24, and we invite you to engage with NCTE as we raise awareness of intellectual freedom, the importance of stories, and how educators can support students’ right to read: 

  • On September 18, NCTE’s monthly Twitter chat, #NCTEchat, will focus on graphic novels, which have often been the target of banning and restrictions. Join fellow educators and weigh in with thoughts and ideas about intellectual freedom, led by NCTE member Zach Long. Preview the questions here.
  • In a return to in-person activities, NCTE member LaMar Timmons-Long and representatives from the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library will be at Housing Works Bookstore Café in New York City on September 20 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Teachers, parents, and citizens often feel hopeless when seeking ways to combat censorship, but libraries, associations, and educators have recently taken some novel approaches to support students’ right to read. This is a free event, but registration is required.
  • Also on September 20, NCTE will be participating in the official Banned Books Week livestreamed event at 1:00 p.m. ET.
  • State affiliates do a lot of on-the-ground work in their states, including around intellectual freedom. NCTE is partnering with a number of affiliates for a free event on September 22 at 7:00 p.m. ET to talk about this work, share ideas and encouragement, and help to connect literacy educators with their state affiliates.

The This Story Matters campaign is especially relevant during this week, so we encourage you to learn more about how you can get involved in elevating story as well as supporting educators.  

The rationale database launched earlier this year is a dynamic and important tool for advocating for the important stories shared with students in classrooms and libraries. Educators can use it in multiple ways: to prepare for or respond to challenges, advocate for a text’s inclusion in the curriculum, find new texts, introduce rationales to preservice teachers, and more. It is also a very practical way to support fellow teachers by sharing the workload of creating new rationales. NCTE members are invited to sign up for the Rationale Writing Team and/or the Rationale Reviewing Team. By collectively creating and peer reviewing new rationales, the database will stay fresh and ensure everyone has access to the rationales they need. 

Additional resources include: 

Many more events and opportunities to connect and advocate for story are on the horizon. Check the events page regularly for updates. NCTE’s dedication to intellectual freedom and to providing timely, relevant resources continues during this Banned Books Week and beyond.

It is the policy of NCTE in all publications, including the Literacy & NCTE blog, to provide a forum for the open discussion of ideas concerning the content and the teaching of English and the language arts. Publicity accorded to any particular point of view does not imply endorsement by the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, the staff, or the membership at large, except in announcements of policy, where such endorsement is clearly specified.

Sarah Miller is Senior Coordinator with the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Center.