Hawaii Literacy states that more than 40 million Americans read below a fifth grade level. Over 155,000 adults here in Hawaii join that statistic and 16 percent of these people are functionally illiterate. Associated with these numbers are poverty and crime; 43% of adults at the lowest level of literacy live in poverty and over 60% of the adults in prison read at or below the fourth grade level. Developing higher literacy skills is a necessity, and learning to read and write is crucial yet, banning books is still a widespread practice throughout America.
Banned books week, an annual celebration of the right to read challenged literature aims to bring attention to censorship of books in America by displaying well-known books and authors that are considered 'unfit to read' by some.
This event was started by the national book community in 1982 in response to the surge in book challenging to school libraries, public libraries and bookstores. Since its inception, over 11,300 books have been challenged. 464 of these challenges were reported last year to the Office of Intellectual Freedom, which is in charge of implementing the American Library Association policies as written in the Library Bill of Rights.
The banned books week project positively helps communities by encouraging people to read, to think for themselves, and to utilize their freedoms to pore over works that are judged by the few to be unworthy.
The Virtual Read-Out encourages readers to share their opinions of banned books via banned books week's YouTube channel. People interested in participating are asked to make and upload a video about a favorite banned or challenged book. In this video, they should talk about how important the book is to them, tell everyone how they would feel if they were prevented from reading it, read from a banned/challenged book, discuss eyewitness accounts of book banning, or creating a photo montage that talks about their favorite banned or challenged book.
The following is a list of the top ten books that were banned last year. A full list of shockingly banned books can be found on the American Library Association's website.