First published on June 25, 1953, the Freedom to Read Statement begins with this timeless observation: The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack.  

And the freedom to read continues to be threatened. In the past year, more than 60 state bills have been introduced that would restrict or chill what Americans may read.  Many of these efforts are unquestionably unconstitutional and would impair the First Amendment rights of readers of all ages.

Following are joint remarks from Tracie D. Hall, Executive Director of the American Library Association; Allison K Hill, CEO of the American Booksellers Association; Maria A. Pallante, President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers; and Mary Rasenberger, CEO of the Authors Guild:

“Seventy years ago, fear, suspicion, and suppression fueled by McCarthyism was at a fever pitch—a serious situation that required a robust and vigorous affirmation of intellectual freedom and the constitutional protections that protect it.  Today, as we grapple with a new wave of censorship in schools, libraries, and bookstores targeting a wide range of expression, including fiction and nonfiction, the Freedom to Read Statement remains an important defense of the freedom to write, publish and inquire.

“Our democracy is based on the belief that every person’s right to read is indispensable to their personal and political pursuit of happiness. This fact is indisputable.  American democracy has always depended on the lawful dissemination and rigorous protection of speech—from all political quarters and all personal perspectives, both old and new ideas.  

“To be clear, not every expression of authorship will withstand the rigorous and sustained scrutiny of the marketplace of ideas, but our free society requires that we have the right to make up our own minds about what we choose to read and what we think of what we’ve read.  As our predecessors stated in 1953, “Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.” 

“As we celebrate this anniversary, we are mindful not only of the rights of readers, but of the nation’s authors, publishing houses, bookstores, and libraries, whose missions both reflect and are in service to our free society.”

You may access the Freedom to Read Statement here.    

More About the Freedom to Read Statement

The Freedom to Read statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers. Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.