Banned Books Week is a yearly event usually held on the last week in September to draw attention to censorship and celebrate the freedom to read. Books are challenged, and sometimes banned or removed, every year in schools and libraries, mostly for the same tired reasons of having LGBTQ+ content or other themes “designed to pollute the morals of its readers.” Such pearl clutching! Looking through the lists of the top 10 most challenged books maintained by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom, and seeing all the reasons that people think books shouldn’t be read by others can be both hilarious and infuriating. The same titles tend to make the lists for a few years in a row before attentions fade, but books like The Diary of Anne Frank and others that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to show up often make appearances, too.
Both of my parents are avid readers, and I have really special memories of reading books together as a child and taking weekend trips to local bookstores and libraries. I don’t remember my mom and dad ever telling me that I couldn’t read something. This led to some interesting choices that maybe not every parent would allow their kid to read, but it also fostered an invaluable sense of trust that I wish every child could experience. While many books on the lists can also be problematic for various reasons, the point is that readers should be able to decide for themselves what that means. Ultimately, intellectual freedom means maintaining free access to information and protecting the ability to have ongoing conversations about the ideas presented in books and literature.
In my career as a librarian I’ve participated in events and created displays for Banned Books Week. Most libraries aren’t able to do things in person this year, but calling attention to intellectual freedom is certainly more important now than ever. I thought I would put something together that could work as a socially distanced celebration. So without further ado, here’s a free pattern to stitch for Banned Books Week!
Click below to download the PDF pattern.
Today is also “create something unrestricted” day as a part of the ALA’s #BannedBooksWeek in Action schedule that “invites readers to participate in a different activity that spotlights literary activism each day of Banned Books Week (September 27 – October 3, 2020). Readers and libraries are invited to share their activities widely on social media with #BannedBooksWeek to encourage others to join the movement for the freedom to read!” Check out the full schedule here.
I haven’t test stitched this pattern yet because I’m waiting on some new Sulky threads to arrive, but I’ll update this post when I do. In the meantime, I’d love to see yours if you decide to stitch it! You can also take a moment to share your favorite banned or challenged book with a comment here or on Twitter. Happy reading (and stitching)!