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Freedom to Read Foundation announces five recipients of 2019 Banned Books Week event grants

The Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) awarded five $1000 grants to nonprofit institutions in support of 2019 Banned Books Week events (September 22-28, 2019) an annual event celebrating the Freedom to Read. The grants, a project of FTRF’s Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund, support a wide range of read-outs, displays, discussions, performances, and other educational initiatives that will engage communities in dialogues about censorship and the freedom to read. The recipients were among 42 grant requests from high schools, libraries, public and private universities and other groups.

The grant recipients for 2019 include:

Academy of the Sacred Heart – New Orleans, Louisiana

This is the Academy’s first Banned Books Week event and they will transform their library into a Book Prison.  Students, faculty, and parents will be encouraged to come into the library to have their “mugshot” taken with their favorite banned book and a “Caught Reading” sign.  Faculty members will be dressed as “cops.” As part of the transformation, the library will also conduct an escape room which students will need to free the banned books.   As a culminating event, they will have a Read-out of a banned book. The entire lower school will participate in the darkened auditorium with each student holding a flashlight to “Keep the Light On”. They will hold other events throughout the week that engage students of all ages. To learn more about their activities, visit: 

Belen Public Library – Belen, New Mexico

The Belen Public Library is dedicating the 2019 Banned Books Week to issues surrounding Women and Censorship.  Belen, New Mexico is a town of 7,300 people with a broad diversity of perspectives. From families who arrived in Belen in the 1740s as the first Hispanic settlers of the region to families who arrived in the last few years.  The area is rich and varied in the lifestyles, spiritual traditions, and political perspectives of the residents. Women in the area range from traditional homemakers and home-educators to the world-renowned feminist artist Judy Chicago, and every nuance in between. The beauty of such a diverse community can be challenging when it comes to defending everyone’s right to intellectual freedom and freedom of expression. In partnership with other local organizations dedicated to maintaining the wide diversity of views and expressions in our community, they intend to offer a week of exhibits, performances, presentations, and community discussions exploring the experiences and perspectives of women around censorship.  Issues include women’s political expression and suffrage, banned books by women, social censorship of women, women and social media, and women’s bodies and art. To learn more, visit:

Oceanside Public Library – Oceanside, California

The 2019 theme for Banned Books Week at Oceanside Public Library is “Escaping Censorship.” Staff will create an escape room, with the goal of players trying to “escape censorship”.  The Library will partner with a local nonprofit art studio, Studio ACE, to offer art programs for all ages, focusing on the theme of censorship with the artwork created in these classes as centerpieces in the Library’s Escape Room.  Participants who “escape” the banned books Escape Room, will earn a t-shirt customized for this project. The library participates in a monthly city-wide Art Walk, a popular arts and culture festival, where the banned books artwork, Escape Room materials, books, and information about censorship will be on display to foster community dialogue about the importance of the freedom to read. 

Park University Library – Parkville, Missouri

The Park University Banned Books Week project will be themed “Love is Love,” and will focus on banned books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters, authors, and content. As a larger library endeavor, library staff have been striving to have more inclusive collections, particularly regarding LGBTQIA+ characters and authors, since they feel the University underrepresents LGBTQIA+ students in events, programming, and inclusion efforts. The project will engage students, faculty, staff, and community members on a topic rarely discussed on campus, and it will be their first official Banned Books Week event.  Learn more at

Worcester County Public Schools – Newark, Maryland

The three Worcester County Public high schools will celebrate Banned Books Week with stations set up in the library that encourage patrons to celebrate reading banned books and advocate for the freedom to read. Stations will include creating short videos reading pages from banned or challenged books, writing postcards to authors thanking them for writing books worth challenging, choosing to read banned or challenged books, and posting to social media or creating posters to encourage others to protect our freedom to read.  During the culminating event, students and community members will participate in Banned Books Week Trivia and discuss Banned Books and surrounding issues. Learn more at

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