This year’s Freedom to Read week kicks off tomorrow, February 21, so let’s celebrate our freedom to read by exploring books that have been challenged or banned, contested in some way! Every year, Freedom to Read week and Banned Books Week (in the fall) roll around and we’re prompted to talk about why it’s important to have the freedom to access all sorts of different books, whether they agree with our point of view or not. We might think that banned or contested books would probably be extreme in their content, but in fact, most of us will definitely recognize one of consistently contested or banned books/series: Harry Potter. Yes, Harry has been being hunted down not just by Voldemort, but also by members of the general public. Apparently it’s been contested since the series came out, mostly for religious reasons – luring kids into practicing witchcraft! – but can you imagine a world where Harry Potter was successfully banned? Where we’d have had to as kids to exchange contraband Potter books in order to get our hands on the latest release, if at all? Actually, I can imagine that kind of world, especially since 2020 gave us, among other things, the national security law in Hong Kong, not to mention earlier this year, Hungary made LGBTQIA+ disclaimers mandatory on children’s books. So it’s a good time to pause and not take for granted our freedom to read.