(NEW YORK)—More than 20 actors, writers, and artists are joining together to spread the word about book bans by creating videos about their favorite banned books, a project spearheaded by the Writers Guild Initiative in coordination with PEN America and Unite Against Book Bans.

The videos will be shared on social media to highlight the Banned Books Week day of action on October 7, with the theme Let Freedom Read. Members of the public are encouraged to join the video campaign and share their own favorite banned books with the hashtags #LetFreedomRead and #BannedBooksWeek.

Kevin Bacon, Blythe Danner, Edie Falco, Neil Gaiman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mandy Patinkin, Kyra Sedgwick, and B.D. Wong are among those joining the campaign

Instances of book bans rose 33% in the last school year, according to the recent PEN America report, Banned in the USA: The Mounting Pressure to Censor. Since PEN America started tracking public school book bans in July 2021, the organization has recorded nearly 6,000 instances of banned books. This includes 3,362 book bans during the 2022-2023 school year.

The Let Freedom Read videos will be posted on Instagram accounts, including @PENAmerica and @UniteAgainstBookBans.

“The Writers Guild Initiative is proud to stand with PEN America and Unite Against Book Bans to ensure that students all over the country have access to books that help them make sense of the world and their place in it,” said Richard Dresser, President of the Writers Guild Initiative.

Kasey Meehan, Freedom to Read Program Director at PEN America, said the video project during Banned Books Week is a perfect opportunity to show how much books and literature matter to all Americans.

“We know books change lives, and today’s students deserve access to books that give them the chance to understand their world,” she said. “Books aren’t just educational – they’re insightful, compelling, and enjoyable. Seeing the joy that books bring in these video messages sends a powerful message about the value of literature for everyone.”

“No one group or person can fight book bans alone. We need everyone to step up, which is why we launched Unite Against Book Bans.” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “We’re excited to see actors investing their celebrity capital to speak up for the freedom to read. We hope that they will inspire readers everywhere to find their own voices and to take action to fight book bans.”

About the Writers Guild Initiative

The Writers Guild Initiative is an independent non-profit organization affiliated with the Writers Guild of America, East. Our programs are dedicated to bringing professional film and television writers together with underserved communities to encourage self-expression through writing. Learn more at writersguildinitiative.org

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org

About Unite Against Book Bans

Unite Against Book Bans is a public-facing national initiative launched by the American Library Association in April 2022 to empower readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship. With more than 200 partner organizations and tens of thousands of individual supporters, the campaign connects, equips and mobilizes the public to advocate in their communities for the right to read and to defeat attempts at at every level of government to censor reading material. Learn more and join the campaign at uniteagainstbookbans.org/take-action/.