City Cast

How to Observe Banned Books Week in Pittsburgh

Natalia Aldana
Natalia Aldana
Posted on October 3
The exterior wall of the Miami Books & Books bookstore in Coral Gables, Florida listing banned books. (Jeffrey Greenberg/Getty Images)

The exterior wall of the Miami Books & Books bookstore in Coral Gables, Florida listing banned books. (Jeffrey Greenberg/Getty Images)

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

At the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny and Main branch, receive a complimentary copy of one of the library staff member’s favorite banned books.

📚 Check Out Banned Books

Head to your local library and check out a banned book, including banned children’s books.

📚 Share Your Banned Book

📚 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.

Hey Pittsburgh

Want to know what's happening in Pittsburgh? Sign up for our free newsletter, Hey Pittsburgh. Packed with local news, curated event recs, local life hacks, and more, it's your daily toolkit for getting the most out of the city you love.

Pittsburgh, Explained

See All