Banned Books Week 2021 Hero Image

Across the United States, divisive book bans and censorious threats have taken hold in schools, academia, and the public square, particularly in regards to books that center racism, history, and diversity. This has raised questions: Who is allowed to be heard? Who decides? This year, as we celebrate Banned Books Week, PEN America uplifts the books, authors, teachers, and writers who insist on telling stories and examining history with truth, honesty, and complexity.

In an effort to unpack these current challenges, PEN America is hosting a series of virtual and in-person events. These events will offer a clear-eyed view of the current assaults on the freedom to express, the freedom to read, and the freedom to learn.

Events

Gender Identity, Sexuality, and Free Expression in Alabama

Gender Identity, Sexuality, and Free Expression in Alabama

September 27, 2021
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm CT

Digital Event
Presented in partnership with the ACLU of Alabama
This roundtable conversation will focus on the historical challenges to gender expression, sexuality, and free speech in Alabama.
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A Conversation with Chris Tomlinson and Ashley Hope Pérez

A Conversation with Chris Tomlinson and Ashley Hope Pérez

September 28, 2021
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm CT

The Carpenter Hotel
Austin, TX
Writer and editor Chris Tomlinson and young adult author Ashley Hope Pérez come together for this special conversation to discuss recent threats to free expression in Texas.
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A Conversation with Bryan Burrough and Jim Schutze

A Conversation with Bryan Burrough and Jim Schutze

September 29, 2021
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm CT

Bishop Arts Theatre
Dallas, TX
Writer and journalist Bryan Burrough and author and activist Jim Schutze come together for this special event that will assess the negative impacts of censoring political and historical literature.
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A Conversation with Jewell Parker Rhodes and Kelly McWilliams

A Conversation with Jewell Parker Rhodes and Kelly McWilliams

September 30, 2021
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm ET

Digital Event
Award-winning novelist and educator Jewell Parker Rhodes and her daughter, young adult author Kelly McWilliams, come together in conversation to discuss book bans and young adult literature.
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History, Racism, and Education in Oklahoma

History, Racism, and Education in Oklahoma

September 30, 2021
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm CT

Digital Event
Youth advocate and Oklahoma Board of Education member Carlisha Williams Bradley and University of Oklahoma history professor Anne Hyde join us for a discussion of currents threats to honest teaching of history and racism in Oklahoma schools and universities.
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Erasure of Black Thought: A Conversation about Critical Race Theory with Black Academics and Writers

Erasure of Black Thought: A Conversation about Critical Race Theory with Black Academics and Writers

October 1, 2021
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm ET

Digital Event
“Erasure of Black Thought” will be a conversation among Black academics that unpacks the current challenges to freedom of expression in schools, colleges, and the public sphere in regards to racism, history, and diversity.
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Celebrating Banned Books Week at Scuppernong Books

Celebrating Banned Books Week at Scuppernong Books

October 2, 2021
11:00 am – 4:00 pm ET

Scuppernong Books
Greensboro, NC
Join PEN America for a full day of activities to celebrate open access to books in our schools, libraries, and communities.
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Further Reading

Texas Flag

A Texas Book Ban is an Attack on the Freedom to Learn

Months after the Leander Independent School District banned books and graphic novels from its secondary school curriculum, the district released decisions on an additional set of titles.

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Banned Books Week Reading List Featured Image

Protecting the Freedom to Learn: A Banned Books Week Reading List

In this reading list, we’ve chosen to spotlight 10 of the 19 books slated for removal or suspension in the Leander Independent School District in Texas.

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Carry Banned Books in this Tote

Tote bag with a stack of books with a red warning label on top: “Warning: Contains Banned Books”

Buy a limited edition Banned Books Week tote bag today, and support PEN America’s continued work advocating on behalf of authors, educators, and the freedom to learn.

Additional Events

Banned Books Virtual Readout

Banned Books Virtual Readout

September 27, 2021
4:00 pm – 5:15 pm PT
Digital Event

The University Library and the CSUN Department of Journalism host the Ninth Annual Banned Books Readout, featuring guest speaker James Tager, research director at PEN America, who will speak on “Book Banning in America’s Schools, Libraries and Prisons.”

REGISTER HERE

Shining The Light

Shining the Light: Journalism in Times of Tyranny

September 30, 2021
7:00 pm – 8:15 pm ET
Digital Event

In recognition of Banned Books Week, panelists will describe the situation for journalists in Nicaragua, Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Belarus. Speakers include Polina Sadovskaya, Eurasia program director at PEN America.

REGISTER HERE

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