Banned Books Week at Harkins House

CONTACT:  Cathy Leiber

Judith’s Reading Room Celebrates Banned Books Week
Harkins House Receives Collection of YA Books 

22 September 2023 Hillsboro, Oregon —In recognition of Banned Books Week, the global literacy nonprofit organization Judith’s Reading Room hosted a special event at Washington County’s Harkins House with a donation of mostly banned or challenged YA fiction, nonfiction and graphic novels.   The organization established a library at the residential home in May 2012.

Judith F. Krug, a prominent First Amendment and library activist, in whose memory Judith’s Reading Room was founded in 2010, fervently believed that no one should tell another person what they can or cannot read.  Judy is credited with creating Banned Books Week in 1982 in her capacity as Director, Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association in Chicago, Illinois .  

Every year, the American Library Association compiles a list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools.  It is notable that 2022 marked the year when demands to censor library resources was the highest since the ALA began compiling data about censorship more than 20 years ago.

Scott Leiber, co-founder, Judith’s Reading Room and first cousin to Judy will make brief remarks to the residents and staff at Harkins House about Judy’s lifetime commitment to the First Amendment.  For over 40 years, Judy led the American Library Association’s prestigious Office for Intellectual Freedom.  In that capacity, she defended librarians, teachers, authors and book publishers who came under attack for offering books that someone objected to. 

To honor the spirit of Banned Books Week, Judith’s Reading Room purchased many of the top challenged books to donate to Harkins House including:  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Alexie, Lawn Boy by Evison, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Chbosky and Looking for Alaska by Green.

“These books are intended to provide fun for youth impacted by the Juvenile Justice System residing at Harkins House,” said Cathy L. Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room.  “Research shows that reading for pleasure can have a positive impact on mental health and well-being,” she added.

Today’s donation brings to a total 631 books donated since 2012 to Harkins House at a value of $7,874.  This demonstrates the organization’s on going commitment to support the education and mental health of young people by providing them books that can help navigate difficult times and build resilience.

The mission of Judith’s Reading Room is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.  Its signature event, the annual Freedom Through Literacy Award honors teachers, authors, and librarians who have done exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading.  To date the organization has dedicated 105 libraries in 23 countries, serving tens of thousands of children and adults with more than 132,000 books donated worth $1.4 million.

To apply for the 2024 Freedom Through Literacy Award, visit the organization’s website on October 5, 2023 at  The deadline for applications is February 5, 2024.


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