By Leann Pettit
This is the week to celebrate the freedom to read beloved texts that were once considered offensive—and that sometimes still are subject to challenges or outright bans in schools and libraries.
Sept. 22 to 28 is national Banned Books Week.
"Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read," and brings together readers from all walks of life "in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular," according to the American Library Association Web site.
Some of the best known banned classics include "The Great Gatsby," "The Catcher in the Rye," "The Color Purple," and "The Lord of the Rings."
According to the Banned Books Week Web site, the week-long celebration "was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries." Since 1982, 11,300 books have been challenged, with 464 challenges in 2012 alone.
According to the Banned Books Week Web site, the "Captain Underpants" series topped the list of most challenged titles in 2012. "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," "Thirteen Reasons Why," "Fifty Shades of Grey," and "And Tango Makes Three" round out the top five.
This year, readers can participate in the Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out by creating a video "proclaiming the virtues of the freedom to read" that will be featured on the Banned Books Week YouTube channel.
Three regional events are being held to celebrate Banned Books Week.
The Trexler Library at Muhlenburg College in Allentown is celebrating banned books through dance at Judith's Reading Room. The event will be held on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. The library is located at 2400 Chew St. in Allentown. Learn more here.
Main Point Books in Bryn Mawr is hosting a "Books Banned for Crazy Reasons" display through Sunday. Check out the selected titles and learn facts about book banning and why it is still happening in American schools. Main Point Books is located at 1041 West Lancaster Ave. in Bryn Mawr. Learn more here.
Firefly Bookstore in Kutztown has a Banned Books window and store display, highlighting many titles that have been challenged or banned, particularly featuring titles that have faced local or Pennsylvania challenges. Firefly Bookstore is located at 230 W. Main St. in Kutztown. Learn more here.
What's your favorite banned or challenged book? Tell us in the comments!