SPOKANE, Wash. – This week marks Banned Books Week nationwide, an annual event that organizers say aims to celebrate the freedom to read, research, or express ideas, even those that might be unpopular.
According bannedbooks.orgBanned Books Week was founded in 1982 in response to an increase in book-related challenges in libraries and schools, with the aim of raising awareness of why certain books are challenged.
The American Library Association (ALA) is one of the main drivers behind Banned Book Week.
Their website recently indicates that they have noted the emphasis on “calls for the removal of books that address racism and racial justice, or that share the stories of Black, Indigenous, or people of color.”
John Waite owns My aunt’s bookstore in downtown Spokane. He says he has been selling banned or contested books for more than 40 years, and describes some of them as “all-time classics”.
“If you look at why people ban these books, it’s usually something they want to hide and don’t want people to know about the company, which I think is really important,” Waite said. “I feel like [in] the modern world, people would prefer that we were uneducated. I like people knowing as much as they can and making their own decisions.”
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracks book ban attempts across the country and claims to have documented 681 book challenges in the first eight months of 2022, including 1,651 different and unique titles.
Auntie’s Bookstore has a whole range of books that have been challenged or banned over the years, with little info cards about the issues people have raised about them in the past.
Waite says this is part of the mission of Banned Books Week and how he and Auntie can help.
“We know that when people attack a book, we’re going to come out and kind of fight back and fight to get those books out there and make sure people have a chance to read it,” Watie said.
This year’s Banned Books Week runs until Saturday, September 24.
For more information, visit the Banned Books Week website by clicking here.