It’s Banned Books Week. Here’s how to celebrate in Des Moines

Their titles are recognizable, the sort of books with dog-eared pages and edges worn from multiple readings.

“The Bluest Eye.” “To Kill a Mockingbird.” “The Catcher in the Rye.” “The Color Purple.”

They’re classics.

They’re also some of the most frequently challenged books in America.

This week marks the 40th annual Banned Books Week, a national event seeking to educate about censorship in public spaces and celebrate reading all genres, subjects and authors.

Joining libraries and bookstores across America, the Des Moines Public Library has planned a week of programming in honor of banned books, including partnering with Raygun on limited-edition “I Read Banned Books!” T-shirts.

More:Iowans widely oppose criminal penalties, lawsuits over ‘obscene’ books in schools, poll finds

The annual spotlight on censorship comes as attempts to ban or restrict access to books are on course to exceed the record set in 2021, according to the American Library Association, which has tracked such challenges for more than two decades.

In the first eight months of 2022, there were 681 requests for censorship of 1,651 titles, according to the association, continuing the “sharp rise” in ban attempts over the past two years. And while certain literary classics remain marks for challenges, recent years have seen more targeted campaigns to remove materials about the LGBTQ community, racism, social justice or the personal stories of people of color.

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