During Banned Books Week this October 1–7, we reaffirm our belief that uncensored and equitable access to books is essential to democracy and self-government, to personal development and social progress, and to every individual’s inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Author Patricia McCormick makes her case to Let Freedom Read!: “Many children endure traumas that leave them feeling isolated, ashamed, angry, and afraid. But when those children see their experiences…in books, they learn they’re not alone; they might even begin to see a path out of their pain. (And for those who are not living in abusive homes, or fighting homophobia, racism, sexism, or the existential dread of gun violence, books can help them better understand their peers.) I know this from…the thousands of kids who’ve told me about books that saved their lives.”