Reading advocate and icon Levar Burton will serve as the first actor to lead Banned Books Week as the honorary chair. Banned Books Week is an annual event that lasts a week and serves to bring awareness to book bans, while highlighting the necessity of the freedom to read and having access to information. It will take place October 1-7 this year.
While Burton has played groundbreaking roles in shows like Roots and Star Trek, he’s also played a huge part in supporting literacy. His PBS children’s show Reading Rainbow lives in the hearts of many Americans who grew up from 1983 and on, he currently has a podcast dedicated to literature titled Levar Burton Reads, and he executively produced The Right to Read, an award-winning documentary from this year that shows how literacy is a civil rights concern.
To Burton, the importance of books and reading can not be overstated,“Books bring us together. They teach us about the world and each other. The ability to read and access books is a fundamental right and a necessity for life-long success,” he’s said.
“But books are under attack. They’re being removed from libraries and schools,” he continued. “Shelves have been emptied because of a small number of people and their misguided efforts toward censorship. Public advocacy campaigns like Banned Books Week are essential to helping people understand the scope of book censorship and what they can do to fight it. I’m honored to lead Banned Books Week 2023.”
Burton will host an online conversation on censorship and advocacy with Banned Books Week Youth Honorary Chair Da’Taeveyon Daniels on October 4th at 8 pm EST. It will be streamed live on the Banned Books Week’s Instagram account.
This year’s Banned Books Week theme is “Let Freedom Read,” and October 7th is Let Freedom Read day. The organization hopes that people will spend the day fighting against censorship in some way. This may include writing letters to representatives, checking out banned books, and more. Any way people are able to oppose censorship is encouraged.