San Diego Public Library Kicks Off Banned Books Week with Read-a-Thon

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The San Diego Public Library will kick off its annual Banned Books Week Monday with a read-a-thon in the Neil Morgan Auditorium at Central Library.

The event, which begins at 12:30 p.m., will include a proclamation of Freedom to Read Day in San Diego by Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert and remarks by community representatives, according to the library. Participants will read excerpts from books that have been challenged and banned, including children’s picture books, classic novels and award-winning literature.

“The San Diego Public Library’s mission is to inspire lifelong learning through connections to knowledge and each other. The only way to do that is through the free and open exchange of information,” said Library Director Misty Jones. “As book challenges rise across the country, SDPL is committed to fighting against book bans and censorship and encouraging the freedom to read and learn.”

Banned Books Week continues with a full week of programming centered around banned and challenged books. According to the American Library Association, the number of book challenges in 2022 nearly doubled from the year before, and almost 50% of those challenges targeted materials in public libraries.

During the week, the library will also host storytimes featuring banned books, a Freedom to Read author event, banned books bingo and screenings of films based on books that have been challenged, a statement from the SDPL read. For more information on Banned Books Week and SDPL programs, visit sandiego.gov/bannedbooksweek.

Last week, the San Diego Public Library and Library Foundation SD joined Books Unbanned, an effort to resist book bans by making challenged titles available to young readers across the U.S.

Through the program, young readers can access a collection of frequently banned or challenged titles in e-book or audiobook form. The list of more than 250 titles includes some of the most challenged books in the U.S., such as “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, a statement from the organizations reads.

Recently Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond issued a letter to school districts statewide cautioning against book bans.

“Intellectual freedom is one of the cornerstones of our democracy, and we have to protect it,” said Library Foundation SD CEO Patrick Stewart. “We are incredibly grateful for our strong community of readers, and for all the generous library supporters who make this campaign possible.”

Banned Books Week runs through Saturday.

–City News Service