“Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high.” (Reading Rainbow Theme Song, Horelick, Kleinman, and Weirwas, 1983)
If you were a fan of the PBS program Reading Rainbow, which aired for 26 years on public television stations, you can’t help but finish the rest of that song. Such a memorable message is thanks in large part to Reading Rainbow’s host, LeVar Burton, and the show’s dedication to inspiring a love of reading. This year, LeVar Burton continues his work as a reading advocate by serving as honorary chair of Banned Books Week (October 1-7) and Let Freedom Read Day (Saturday, October 7).
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a surge in the number of challenges to books in libraries, bookstores, and schools. The annual event highlights the value of free and open access to information and brings together the entire book community – librarians, educators, authors, publishers, booksellers, and readers of all kinds – in shared support of the freedom to seek and express ideas.
Learning about our Freedom to Read feels particularly important this year, as the American Library Association (ALA) releases new preliminary data revealing a persistent rise in the number of book challenges and bans across the country. Most of the challenges continue to be books written by or about a person of color or a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.
At Stark Library, we embrace diversity, invite multiple points of view, and foster an environment of belonging. We also encourage learning and exploration, through which we invite you to discover more about the history of banned books, the significance of intellectual freedom, and actions you can take to support every individual’s freedom to find and read the materials they choose for themselves and their families.