MIT Libraries observe “Banned Books Week”

2016 Freedom to Read event to focus on diversity

Artwork courtesy of the Americal Library Association

Artwork courtesy of the Americal Library Association

“Banned Books Week,” a week-long celebration of those books most often targeted by censors, runs from September 25 to October 1. This year’s events focus on the disproportionately high number of challenges and bans on books authored by diverse authors and those focusing on diverse content or themes. The MIT Libraries’ Committee for the Promotion of Diversity and Inclusion (CPDI), in an effort to highlight these frequently targeted books, has put together the Banned Books Week 2016 page on this year’s theme, complete with catalog links to our library holdings of these important books, as well as a list of library staff members’ personal favorites from the American Library Association’s (ALA) list of the most frequently challenged books. Here are a few:



The Color Purple by Alice Walker

“Usually we hear about black women’s lives from others, but this is a raw account. I like that it isn’t toned down to make anyone feel better. It’s truthful in alarming and saddening ways. Quite beautiful.” – Madeline Wrable





Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

“I love this book. Alison Bechdel tells the story of her family’s very specific struggles and in doing so creates something universal. She uses her skills as a storyteller and artist to tell a tale of being “different” — in this case, queer — and to examine the risks and rewards of living an authentic life.” – Julia Lanigan




Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

“I loved the beautiful writing and the exploration of language and storytelling traditions, but also that the book that doesn’t shy away from the complexities of identity and being in the world. The main character is a black woman who lives with strength and purpose in spite of oppression and the judgement of those around her. The author – Zora Neale Hurston – was a black woman writing during the Harlem Renaissance and was herself a strong but complicated figure.” – Frances Botsford




Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

Redefining Realness is the Fall 2016 MIT Reads selection and chosen by Stacey Snyder.



The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Chosen by Chris Bourg, director of the MIT Libraries.

Please visit our 2016 Banned Books Week page for more information on current censorship efforts as well as a complete list of staff favorites with accompanying Barton catalog pages in case you want to exercise your freedom to read! Did we miss a favorite of yours? Please share with us your own experiences of diverse literature and banned or challenged books on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. We would love to hear from you!