About CALS Banned Books Week

September 26 – October 2, 2021

Join us for our 11th annual Banned Books Week at CALS, as we celebrate the battle against censorship!

Groups that resist book banning have protected classic works such as To Kill a Mockingbird, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Lord of the Flies. These books that address important themes often contain disturbing scenes, as they reflect realistic challenges and situations in our world. But without disturbing us, authors would not be able to convey important truths such as the violence and injustice caused by racism, or the mistreatment of the mentally ill. Banned Books Week honors freedom of choice for individuals, as well as the freedom to write on and read about important cultural topics even when those topics have the power to offend.

a graphic showing the most common reasons given for censorship

2021 Spotlight Book


book cover of Persepolis
Political repression, Iranian history, and even jasmine bras, factor into Marjane’s Satrapi’s brilliant coming of age memoir-in-comics, Persepolis. The book was named one of the best of the year by The New York Times the year of its release. In addition to other accolades, Persepolis has faced multiple challenges, specifically for language and its depiction of torture.

We will also be celebrating the end of Banned Books Week and the winners of this year’s writing contest (see below) with a free screening of the 2007 film made from Persepolis, which was nominated for an Academy Award for best animated feature. The virtual screening will be Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m. Even though it is virtual, “seating” is limited and free registration is required.

Register for the screening

a graphic describing who makes the most challenges to censor books.

Banned Books Week Writing Contest

Choose A or B

Option A

Imagine you are running an ad campaign for the book. Describe one specific panel in the book you think best represents the work and why?

Option B

Marjie lives in Iran in a time when several schools were shut down and she felt the need to read all she could for understanding. What book has brought you the most understanding of a specific culture (other than your own) and describe some of what you learned?


First Prize winner will receive $400; Honorable Mention winner will receive $100.


Submissions should be 100 to 500 words, typed. One entry per Arkansas resident. Must be 16 or above. On the first page of each submission include your name, address, email, and telephone number. Entries will be judged on flow, originality, clarity, potency, and strength of imagery and/or argument. Humor is appreciated, but not required.

The winner and honorable mention from the 2020 Banned Books writing contest are ineligible to win. Also include whether your entry can be shared. Entries will be accepted beginning September 1. Entries must be received by Sept. 22. The winner and honorable mention will be announced during a free screening of the animated film on Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m.

Send submissions to:

CALS Banned Books Writing Contest
100 Rock St.
Little Rock, AR 72201

or email to SixBridgesBookFest@cals.org.

a graphic showing the types of materials and resources that are challenged

Crazy Free Books 2021

In this fourth year for this program, interested readers are able to secure one of 50 free copies of Persepolis on a first message received, first served basis until the books have all been claimed. Beginning Sept. 1 at 8 a.m. please email SixBridgesBookFest@CALS.org if you would like one. Put CRAZY FREE BOOKS in your subject line, please. Please include a mailing address.