For almost 2000 years, people have been banning books in one way or another—the history of book burning goes at least as far back as 213 BCE. And while we've come quite a long way from those times, people still continue to ban books today.
That's why each September we celebrate our freedom to read with Banned Books Week, an event hosted by the American Library Association. To help get you in the spirit year round, below are 23 powerful quotes about the futility of banning books.
1. “Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance.” ―Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak
2. "What I tell kids is, Don't get mad, get even. Don't spend time waving signs or carrying petitions around the neighborhood. Instead, run, don't walk, to the nearest nonschool library or to the local bookstore and get whatever it was that they banned. Read whatever they're trying to keep out of your eyes and your brain, because that's exactly what you need to know.” ―Stephen King
3. “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” ―Joseph Brodsky
4. “The important task of literature is to free man, not to censor him, and that is why Puritanism was the most destructive and evil force which ever oppressed people and their literature: it created hypocrisy, perversion, fears, sterility.” ―Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947
5. “Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.” ―Henry Louis Gates Jr.
6. “Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.” ―Isaac Asimov
7. "If a public school were to remove every book because it contains one word deemed objectionable to some parent, then there would be no books at all in our public libraries." —Peter Scheer
8. “Banning books gives us silence when we need speech. It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight.” ―Stephen Chbosky
9. “Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.” ―Mark Twain
10. “I'm not, like, a book guy, but isn't the point of all this book stuff like what Ms. Croft was teaching us—that unrestricted access to books allows us to be challenged and changed? To learn new things and to critically think about those things and not be afraid of them? To be better than we were before we read them?” ―David Connis, Suggested Reading
11. “A dangerous book will always be in danger from those it threatens with the demand that they question their assumptions. They'd rather hang on to the assumptions and ban the book.” ―Ursula K. Le Guin, The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader and the Imagination
12. “What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.” ―Salman Rushdie
13. “I hate it that Americans are taught to fear some books and some ideas as though they were diseases.” ―Kurt Vonnegut
14. “When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.” ―George R.R. Martin
15. "When these people call Eleanor & Park an obscene story, I feel like they’re saying that rising above your situation isn’t possible. That if you grow up in an ugly situation, your story isn’t even fit for good people’s ears. That ugly things cancel out everything beautiful." —Rainbow Rowell, in response to the Parents Action League attempting to ban her novel from schools in Annoka-Hennepin, MN.
16. “A society that gets rid of all its troublemakers goes downhill.” ―Robert A. Heinlein
17. "There are no bad authors for children… because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories." —Neil Gaiman
18. “Censorship of anything, at any time, in any place, on whatever pretense, has always been and always will be the last resort of the boob and the bigot.” ―Eugene O’Neill
19. “If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.” ―Benjamin Franklin
20. “I can't imagine a greater compliment for an author than making the banned book section.” ―Chris Colfer, A Tale of Magic…
21. “Although there are those who wish to ban my books because I have used language that is painful, I have chosen to use the language that was spoken during the period, for I refuse to whitewash history. The language was painful and life was painful for many African Americans, including my family.
I remember the pain.” ―Mildred D. Taylor, The Land
22. “Yes, books are dangerous. They should be dangerous - they contain ideas.” ―Pete Hautman
23. "The books that the world calls immoral are books that show its own shame." —Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray