Banned Books Week 2021:  Books Unite Us

Books Unite Us logoBanned Books Week is September 26th through October 2nd.  It is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

From The Banned Books Week Coalition:

The Banned Books Week Coalition is proud to announce that Jason Reynolds has been named the inaugural Honorary Chair for Banned Books Week 2021. The New York Times bestselling author will headline the annual celebration of the right to read

Reynolds is the author of more than a dozen books for young people, including:

  •  All American Boys (with Brendan Kiely) DB83370
  • Ghost (book 1 of the Track series) DB85921
  • Long Way Down  DB89688
  • Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks  DB97796
  • Stamped (with Ibram X. Kendi)  DB98926

 A multiple National Book Award finalist, Reynolds has also received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, an NAACP Image Award, and several Coretta Scott King Award honors. He is currently serving a two-year term as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for the Library of Congress.

As an advocate for storytelling and an outspoken critic of censorship, Reynolds is the perfect person to headline Banned Books Week 2021, which has the theme, “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” For young people in particular, books offer both shared and differently lived experiences that help them develop empathy and understand themselves and their world. In turn, censorship isolates us from each other by narrowing our view of the world.

“I’m excited about being the inaugural Honorary Chair for Banned Books Week,” says Reynolds. “More importantly, I’m excited about this year’s theme, which is so simple, yet so powerful. What does it mean when we say, ‘Books unite us?’ It means that books are the tethers that connect us culturally. Stories ground us in our humanity; they convince us that we’re not actually that different and that the things that are actually different about us should be celebrated because they are what make up this tapestry of life.”

For more about author Jason Reynolds and Banned Books Week check out


Iowa Center for the Book: Great Reads from Great Places

Grasshopper Jungle book coverThe Iowa Center for the Book (ICB) is a program of the State Library of Iowa and an affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book. Founded in 2002, ICB’s mission is to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy, and libraries. Bookmark this page and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  The Iowa Center for the Book is funded in part with a federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services

From the Iowa Center for the Book

The Iowa Center for the Book has selected Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (DB80786) as the 2021 title for the Great Reads from Great Places program. Great Reads from Great Places is a program from the Library of Congress Center for the Book to showcase the literary heritage of the nation’s states and territories. Each book is selected annually by the Center for the Book affiliates and highlighted during the National Book Festival. The books may be written by authors from the state, take place in the state, or celebrate the state’s culture and heritage. 

About the Book 

Austin and Robby didn’t exactly mean to start the end of the world here in Ealing, Iowa but that’s what happens when they unleash an army of six-foot-tall praying mantises and now this is the truth, this is history … and nobody knows anything about it. 

Funny, intense, complex, and brave, Grasshopper Jungle brilliantly weaves together everything from testicle-dissolving genetically modified corn to the struggles of recession-era, small-town America in this groundbreaking coming-of-age stunner. 

About the Author 

Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Grasshopper Jungle (2015 Michael L. Printz Honor, 2014 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Carnegie Medal Longlist) and Winger. He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. The Alex Crow, a starred novel by KirkusPublishers Weekly, and Booklist, is his ninth novel. He lives in Southern California. Find out more at

See what titles other States chose for their Great Reads from Great Places 

Open A Book, Open the World: The 2021 Library of Congress National Book Festival

Open a book, open the world logoThe 2021 Library of Congress National Book Festival invites audiences to create their own festival experiences from programs in a range of formats and an expanded schedule over 10 days from Sept. 17 through Sept. 26. The spectacular lineup includes authors, poets, and illustrators from America and around the world. 

This year’s festival offers a variety of ways to access programs, allowing attendees to tailor their experience and interests to their preferred mode of participation. Festival content will be available online through videos on demand, author conversations in real-time, and live question-and-answer sessions, as well as a new podcast series. 

List of Participating Authors 

Check out the Schedule 

More Festival Information 

Library News Podcast: September 2021

Join library staff for September’s Library News podcast which features information about the library’s upcoming youth library programs, the ten most challenged books of 2020 for this month’s Banned Books Week, information about Library Card Sign Up Month, news about STEM activity kits, and information about ongoing library events and programs.

Did you know? Celebrating Libraries!

Library Card Sign-Up Month with picture of Marley DiasSince 1987, Library Card Sign-up Month has been held each September to mark the beginning of the school year. During the month, the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries unite together in a national effort to ensure every child signs up for their own library card. 

Did you know? 

  • The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 167 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves, which would span roughly the distance from The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to Cape Canaveral, Florida.
  • A growing body of evidence suggests that students’ academic success is linked to library usage, including improved student retention and an enhanced academic experience.  
  • Libraries play a critical role in the happiness of Americans. Communities that spend more on libraries, parks and highways are shown to support the well-being of community members.
    • Patrick Flavin. State government public goods spending and citizens’ quality of life.  Social Science Research, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2018.11.004  
  • Americans go to public libraries more often than they go to the movies.  
  • There are more public libraries than Starbucks in the U.S. – a total of 16,568, including branches. Nearly 100% of public libraries provide Wi-Fi and have no-fee access to computers. There are 16,568 total libraries including branches in the U.S. per 2016 PLS survey 

Celebrate Library Card Sign Up Month!  Check out our Library Blog “Turning the Pages” to learn more about what our library has to offer. 

It’s Library Card Sign Up Month!

September is library card sign-up month with picture of Marley DiasFrom the American Library Association

Since 1987, Library Card Sign-up Month has been held each September to mark the beginning of the school year. During the month, the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries unite together in a national effort to ensure every child signs up for their own library card. 

Marley Dias, author, executive producer and founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks, is taking on a new role as honorary chair of Library Card Sign-Up Month. This September, Dias will join the ALA and libraries nationwide in promoting the power of a library card. 

As honorary chair, Dias will remind the public that signing up for a library card provides access to technology, multimedia content and educational programming that transforms lives and strengthens communities. “A library card is the ticket you need to travel across the globe. It allows you to experience stories that can connect you to diverse and empowering experiences,” said Dias. 

“We are thrilled Marley Dias has agreed to serve as Library Card Sign-Up Month honorary chair,” said ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. “Marley’s ongoing work as an advocate for literacy and diversity mirror the efforts of libraries to ensure their communities have access to inclusive books and collections that inspire cultural understanding.” 

Whether you use a library card online or in person, it gives students the tools to succeed in school and provides people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunities to pursue their dreams and be their best selves. From family storytimes to homework help, libraries play an essential role in supporting the value of lifelong learning through education. 

Dias is the witty and purpose-driven 16-year-old founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks and author of “Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You!“ (DB90058) #1000BlackGirlBooks is an international movement to collect and donate children’s books that feature Black girls as the lead character. Dias launched the #1000BlackGirlBooks drive in November 2015 with the help of GrassROOTS Community Foundation. The goal was to collect 1,000 books by February 2016, and Dias has collected more than 13,000 books to-date. 

In 2018, Dias was recognized by TIME as one of the 25 most influential teens and was also identified as the youngest member of the Forbes 30 under 30 list to date. Dias is also the executive producer of Netflix’s “Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices,” which is currently nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Children’s Programs category. Dias’ #1000BlackGirlBooks resources guide can found here

For more information, please visit

For more information on how to get your library card for the Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled visit our “Get a Library Card ” page