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18th Annual

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.


Books on the Chopping Block is our annual 60-minute performance of dramatic readings of short excerpts taken from these books. City Lit has teamed up with the ALA in celebration of Banned Books Week since 2006, performing at special events, libraries and bookstores in and around Chicago...and virtually this year.

City Lit Artistic Director Terry McCabe believes that concert readings of excerpts from challenged books actively celebrate the books most at risk, calling attention to the would-be censor's threat to an educated democracy. “Our focus is literate theatre, so we are naturally concerned by attempts to keep books away from people,” McCabe says. “We are privileged to continue our alliance with the ALA in this important work.”

Scheduled Events 2023

Free readings around Chicago and surround areas:

Wednesday, September 27, 2023 at 7:00PM - Vernon Area Library, 300 Olde Half Day Road, Lincolnshire, IL

Monday, October 2, 2023 at 6:00PM - Bellwood Public Library, 600 Bohland Ave., Bellwood, IL

Tuesday, October 3, 2023 at 4:00PM - Edgewater Branch - Chicago Public Library, 6000 N. Broadway St., Chicago, IL

Wednesday, October 4, 2023 at 4:00PM - Lincoln Belmont Branch - Chicago Public Library, 1659 W. Melrose, Chicago, IL

Thursday, October 5 at 7:00PM - Highland Park Public Library, 494 Laurel Ave., Highland Park, IL

Friday, October 6, 2023 at 1:00PM - DePaul University Library, 2350 N. Kenmore Ave., Chicago, IL

*This performance is also available to view remotely.  Register free here.

Saturday, October 7, 2023 at 2:00PM - River Forest Public Library, 735 Lathrop Ave., River Forest, IL


Bonus Performance:


Tuesday, November 14, 2023 at 6:00PM - Women of Temple Sholom Banned Books Event, 3480 N. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL



If you are a library and would like to schedule a performance, please contact Katy Nielsen at

Trailer - Books on the Chopping Block 2021

Full Video of 2021 Books on the Chopping Block

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