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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at IUP chapter.

October 1 through the 7th is banned book week. Being an English major and an avid reader, I felt it was only appropriate that I spread the word about banned book week for those who may not know what it is. Books everywhere are being banned from schools, libraries, and even bookstores. From July 1st 2022 to December 1st 2022, 874 different books were banned from school districts. There were 1,477 instances of book bans in that same time frame. That number is pretty consistent between years. All of the statistics in this article come from the website Pen America and you should definitely check out the website if you want to learn more!

For a book to be banned, a person, private group or other organization has to make a case to whichever institution they want the book removed from. Usually they want it removed due to themes or ideals the book is suspected to represent. The most common is themes or focuses on the LGBTQ+ community. The books are then put under review and may be pulled if the board of these institutions (for example; in a school it would be the school board) deem them ban worthy. In many cases the book will be “banned pending investigation” which means it is pulled from the shelves and then decided if it should continue to have its access removed or if it should be reinstated. 

So, all of this sounds pretty bleak, which is why there is a whole week dedicated to fighting the idea that a book can be banned. Access to all books should be a given. What can we do about it? Here are some ways you can get involved in making a change, along with ways you can celebrate banned book week!

Buy banned books

This one might seem counterintuitive because the book is banned, however, most books are only banned from certain bookstores or libraries. By purchasing these books, you are not only showing that you respect this book and what it is speaking to, but you also are showing respect and financial aid to the author whose voice is being restricted. 

Go to banned book readings

Throughout this week and at other points throughout the year, institutions, libraries and organizations may do banned book readings. It is when people gather and a speaker reads excerpts from banned books. At Indiana University of Pennsylvania, they are hosting a banned book readout at the Library. It is October 4th from 12-1pm, students can also volunteer to read.

Talk about the issue

Just as you may not have known about banned books or the extent of the problem before coming across this article, others may not as well. It is important to discuss these issues and make sure the public is aware that their access and freedom is being restricted. You can only elicit change if you know there is change needed. 

Go to a board meeting to advocate for a book

Many meetings where they make decisions like these are open to the public. If you hear that your school district is making a decision about banning a book, go to the meeting! You can speak at the meeting and advocate for unrestricted access to this book.

Sign up for the Pen America Newsletter

You can sign up for the newsletter to stay up to date on issues of book banning. They give you ways to speak up and speak out about book banning and how you can talk to State and local officials to keep books free in your area.

Banned books show us that some voices are trying to be silenced. It is only through hard work and advocating for these books that we let these voices be heard. It is up to us to keep books accessible to everyone!

Grace Fette is a chapter leader at the HerCampus at IUP chapter. She loves to write lists, zodiac posts, and personal experiences. Grace is a Junior at IUP. She's an English Writing studies major with Women and Gender studies and Communications media minors. She is president of Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society Xi Xi chapter and her work has been published a number of times. She loves to hang out with friends and her sister, hike, and read poetry. She is always up for coffee, cute breakfast places, and concerts of any kind!