Why We Acknowledge Banned Books Week

San Mateo County Libraries is dedicated to promoting a culture of learning, discovery and the freedom to seek and express ideas. It is every person’s right and our mission to ensure that the widest possible collection of information and ideas is easily available in spaces that welcome exploration. By providing a vast collection of materials in many formats and languages, we ensure there is something for everyone at the library, during Banned Books Week and beyond.

What does the freedom to read mean to you? The ability to step into a library and find a book that tells your story or that seeks to share someone else’s story is priceless. At San Mateo County Libraries, we want anyone who walks through our doors to encounter exactly what it is they’re looking for. Preserving the freedom to read means that not everything in the library will interest or appeal to you but it is important to remember the library collection is for everyone. 

The American Library Association, opens a new window (ALA) established Banned Books Week, occurring this year October 1-7, "to emphasize that imposing information restraints on a free people is far more dangerous than any ideas that may be expressed in that information." Censorship attacks free speech and the free exchange of ideas protected by the First Amendment., opens a new window

A Worrying Trend 

The United States has seen a massive uptick in book bans over the past few years. Recent data, opens a new window released by the ALA suggests that while school libraries were previously the primary target of book bans, public libraries are seeing a significant increase in challenges and bans over the first half of 2023. Books with Black and LGBTQIA+ themes are still the most frequently banned books, especially books geared toward teens and children. We respect that parents have the right to decide what is best for their families and library staff are always ready to help patrons find a book that suits their needs.

We've created a list of books for children that introduce the concept of censorship or gatekeeping, and show ways that young protagonists defend their right to read.

Let Freedom Read 

There are lots of ways to stay informed, opens a new window and unite against book censorship, opens a new window. Check out lists we've curated with some of the most challenged books of 2023. Come into our libraries all week long to see our displays and check out our social media for more fun celebrating Banned Books Week. Support your local library and read banned books! 

Some of the Most Challenged Picture Books in 2023

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Some of the Most Challenged Teen Books in 2023

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Some of the Most Challenged Adult Books in 2023

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