Syracuse Library Celebrates Banned Books Week Syracuse Library Celebrates Banned Books Week

A local library is taking a creative approach to look at controversial books.

Banned Books Week Radio Story

Greg Bradbury: During the last week of September, libraries shed light on books that are being censored. Here in Syracuse -the Hazard Branch Library is hosting a Banned Books scavenger hunt for kids. Library patron Charlie Guenther (Gun-Ther) thinks it’s a good way to get children involved.

Charlie Guenther: “The involvement I think it good. I think it’s an interesting creative way to do it. So I definitely agree it’s a good way to do it”

Greg Bradbury: Some of the most challenged books deal with L-G-B-T, violent,or mental health content. The most challenged book is 13 Reasons Why. Ava Sandford (Sand-Ford) says it’s important to use content like this to help start a conversation.

Ava Sanford: “I’ve watched 13 reasons why and it’s a great way to start a conversation about stuff. Even like stuff that’s not usually talked about because it’s hard to start talking about uncomfortable topics like that.”

Greg Bradbury: More than 350 challenges were reported to the American Library Association last year. The event at Hazard Library will take place all week long.

Banned Books Week takes place every year during the last week of September as a way to spotlight controversial books. At the Hazard Branch Library in Onondaga County they are celebrating by having a scavenger hunt for kids. The kids are tasked with finding all ten banned books that are hidden throughout the library and identifying the reason why they were banned. Those who can complete the tasked are then given a prize. 

Harvard Library Event Board
The Hazard Library Branch Event Board
© 2018 Greg Bradbury

The top challenged books deal with LGBT content, sex education, violence, and mental health. The number one book on the list is 13 Reasons Why, which focuses on the decision behind the lead characters decision to commit suicide. 

Ava Sandford has watched the popular Netflix series, but hasn’t read the book.

“It’s a great way to start the conversation about stuff,” Sandford said, “it’s hard to start talking about  uncomfortable topics like that.”

The scavenger hunt serves as a way to engage children with some of the more controversial topics in literature. 

“The involvement is good I think,” said library patron Charlie Guenther, “I think it’s a creative way to do it.”

The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom had more than 350 challenges to school, library, and university materials in 2017. The list of the top ten banned books according to the association is below:


  1. Thirteen Reasons Why written by Jay Asher
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie
  3. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
  4. The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini
  5. George written by Alex Gino
  6. Sex is a Funny Word written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee
  8. The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas
  9. And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole
  10. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
Reported by

Gregory Bradbury

He is a Broadcast Digital Journalism student at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. During the school year he works at CitrusTV, and over the summer he interned with NBC Philadelphia.

Other stories by Gregory Bradbury

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