Did you know a Pittsburgher founded Banned Books Week?
Born and raised in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, Judith “Judy” Fingeret Krug was the executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation, and in 1982, she started Banned Books Week as a time for librarians, teachers, and readers of all ages to celebrate “forbidden” titles and protect the public’s right to seek information and express themselves without barriers.
It’s a proud legacy at a time when a small minority of parents and stakeholders across the country have filed grievances with books representing LQBTQ+ themes and protagonists, as well as characters of color. PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans found that 75% of reported book bans in the last school year were connected to organized efforts, mainly from advocacy groups, elected officials, or enacted legislation.
Luckily Pittsburgh and outlying communities have faced few challenges so far — but that could change.
Last year, Pennsylvania ranked third in the nation for book bans, with 457 challenges across 11 districts — many in Central Bucks County where our own Mallory Falk chronicled student efforts to defeat them.
Legislators are weighing in, too. Lancaster Online shared a proposed bill to ban book bans at libraries and public schools and another bill that would require schools to notify parents about "sexually explicit content" in curriculums.
Banned Books Week runs this week through Saturday, Oct. 7 nationwide. If you’re fired up to fight for libraries and banned books, here’s how to participate in the ‘Burgh:
📚 30 Books in 30 Minutes
📚 Check Out Banned Books
📚 Share Your Banned Book
Spread the knowledge by adding your book to a community library.
📚 Levar Burton’s Insta Live
The man who helped millennials fall in love with reading will be hosting a live discussion on his anti-censorship work in conversation with the Banned Books Week organization.
📚 Attend a Virtual Discussion
Listen in on a virtual discussion hosted by PEN America with renowned authors, including Dave Eggers and Carmen Maria Machado, plus banned authors such as Maia Kobabe who wrote “Gender Queer,” and more.