Banned Book Reading Challenge



Through a generous private donation, we are giving away gift cards for a free pizza for anyone who reads 3 banned books. The gift cards will be for a restaurant in Juniata County.

Here is how it works:

1) The challenge begins Sunday, September 18th, and runs through Friday, November 18th. Registration must be completed by Saturday, September 17th. Registration is now closed.

2) Read any 3 books from our banned book list. Only books checked out from the library count. You can also choose from our books on CD or digital collection. Search our catalog to locate 3 books.

3) Record your books on the challenge sheet and once complete return it to the library. You will be contacted after November 18th with details on how to get your gift card for a free pizza at a Juniata County restaurant. One entry per person.

Get the challenge materials (download links below; print copies available at the library)

Learn more about Banned Book Week and Intellectual Freedom.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a banned book?

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. At this time there are no banned books at the Juniata County Library.

Why do books get banned?

Why do people ban books? Often it’s for religious or political reasons: An idea, a scene or a character in the book offends their religion, sense of morality or political view. Some folks feel they must protect children from cursing, morally offensive behavior or racially insensitive language in a book. Or they think a book’s content is too violent or too sexual.  

Who gets a book banned?

Parents, school board members, individuals and groups are typically the source for getting a book banned from a library. Yet what’s considered offensive may depend on the era or specific community. These challenges pose a threat to freedom of speech and choice — freedoms Americans hold dear and are worth standing up for.  

Why read banned books?

What do “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” “The Great Gatsby,” “Native Son,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Fahrenheit 451” and “The Adventures of Captain Underpants” have in common? At one time or another, someone has tried to ban them from classrooms and public or school libraries.  

The freedom to read is essential to our democracy, and reading is among our greatest freedoms. 

The Washington Post provided 5 reasons to read banned books:

Today’s edgy is tomorrow’s classic. Original work pushes boundaries in topic, theme, plot and structure. What’s shocking today may be assigned in English class five or 10 years from now if it has true literary merit. “The Great Gatsby” is a high school staple today, but it was shocking when its gin-soaked pages were published in 1925.

There’s more to a book than the swear words in it. Many books have been banned for language that your kid has encountered before or will encounter soon. Even potty humor (like in “Captain Underpants”) has caused people to call for a ban. A character’s language may add realism to the story, or it may seem gratuitous or distracting — your kids can make their own judgments.

Kids crave relatable books. Banned books often deal with subjects that are realistic, timely and topical. Young people may find a character going through exactly what they are, which makes it a powerful reading experience and helps the reader sort out thorny issues such as grief, divorce, sexual assault, bullying, prejudice and sexual identity. The compelling teen rebels story “The Outsiders” has been banned, yet many middle-schoolers cite it as the book that turned them into readers.

Controversial books are a type of virtual reality. Exploring complex topics such as sexuality, violence, substance abuse, suicide and racism through well-drawn characters lets kids contemplate morality and vast aspects of the human condition, build empathy for people unlike themselves and possibly discover a mirror of their own experience. “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” is an eye-opening story of an African American family facing racism in 1930s Mississippi, yet it has been banned for having racial slurs.

They’ll kick off a conversation. What did people find so disturbing in a book that they wanted to ban it, and to what extent was it a product of its time or did it defy social norms of its era? For example, the Harry Potter books were banned by people who felt they promoted magic. Reading a challenged book is a learning experience and can help your kids define their own values and opinions of its content.

What is Banned Book Week?

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Highlighting the value of free and open access to information, Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek, to publish, to read, and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restrictions in libraries and schools.