Actor and reading advocate LeVar Burton will serve as the honorary chair of this year’s Banned Books Week, the American Library Association announced in a news release.
Burton, the Roots and Star Trek: The Next Generation star who hosted the PBS children’s series Reading Rainbow for more than 20 years, will be the first actor to lead the event. Previous honorary chairs have included authors Jason Reynolds and George M. Johnson.
Banned Books Week, which “draws national attention to the harms of censorship,” was founded in 1982. This year’s campaign is scheduled for Oct. 1-7; the theme is “Let Freedom Read!”
“Books bring us together … but books are under attack,” Burton said in a statement. “They’re being removed from libraries and schools. Shelves have been emptied because of a small number of people and their misguided efforts toward censorship. Public advocacy campaigns like Banned Books Week are essential to helping people understand the scope of book censorship and what they can do to fight it.”
The announcement of Burton as chair of the campaign comes a day after he penned an open letter opposing book bans. Also signing the letter were more than 150 celebrities, including musician Ariana Grande; actors Billy Porter, Mark Ruffalo, Sharon Stone, and Zooey Deschanel; and authors Ann Patchett, Roxane Gay, and Judy Blume.
Michael Schaub is a contributing writer.