Gift A Banned Books Box

Guide Update: Give Your Mom, Dad, or Grad the Opportunity to Learn About Censored Literature with Banned Books Box
If your giftee is passionate about protecting free speech and expression, help them build their awareness of what ideas and communities are being ‘banned.’ 

By Amanda Carey

Previous ZipsGuide stories about Banned Books Box will appear archived beneath this update.

Does someone on your moms, dads, and grads list enjoy reading intellectually stimulating books and engaging in deep conversations about them? Do you need a gift for someone passionate about freedom of speech and expression?

Ariel Hakim, owner of Banned Books Box, has a gift that goes beyond a single book or gift card. 

In a world where the right to read and access a wide range of literature is under attack, her subscription service is creating a stir by delivering works that have been censored, outlawed, or faced other legal challenges straight to your recipient’s doorstep each month.

"I got interested [in promoting banned books] because the books that I saw that were being banned were ones that I wanted my children to be reading about things like racial injustice, and about people being happy being themselves," Ariel Hakim, owner of Banned Books Box said.

Driven by offering readers access to books that foster compassion and understanding as well as by her experiences working at the Wadsworth Public Library, Hakim created Banned Books Box to combat censorship.

What began as a side passion project has become a successful subscription service that sends users a curated monthly selection of challenged and prohibited books.

Hakim meticulously selects books for the Banned Books Box, making sure that various voices—such as those of LGBTQ+ authors and BIPOC characters—are highlighted. 


Banned Books Box draws attention to books that are commonly subjected to censorship, including Maia Kobabe's "Gender Queer," to increase reader empathy and understanding while simultaneously increasing public awareness of censorship.

However, the mission of Banned Books Box extends beyond book delivery; it also involves igniting discussions and building a community around intellectual freedom. Banned Books Box is leading the assault on censorship with alliances with groups like Honesty for Ohio Education and monetary contributions to advocacy organizations like PennAmerica and the NAACP.

The response from members of the community at large and subscribers, in particular, has been highly favorable. Many have expressed gratitude for the chance to be made aware of and read works that are prohibited and have meaningful conversations about censorship. 

Subscribers have expressed their gratitude for the influence Banned Books Box has had on their life and their dedication to promoting ideas by sharing books with others through touching emails and unpacking videos.

Looking ahead, Hakim envisions growth for Banned Books Box and is currently exploring models like "a book for a book," aiming to democratize access to literature. "When you buy a book, we give a book to someone who needs it...something that I have been thinking about," she said.

If you want a gift that spreads awareness of censorship and targeted literature, while giving your recipient a way to engage their brain, gift them a subscription at:, or visit the Banned Books Box shop at Northside Marketplace located at 21 Furnace St. in downtown Akron. 

Find updates from Banned Books Box on Instagram or Facebook.

(left) Photos of actual Banned Books Boxes, courtesy of Banned Books Boxes website. Photo of Northside Marketplace stand by Julie Cajigas.

To reach content author Amanda Carey,  email her here.

Ariel Hakim, owner of Banned Books Box.

Gift Awareness One Box at a Time With Banned Books Box
Akronite Ariel Hakim is fighting back against book bans and censorship with a subscription box.

By Madison Latona

In 2021, an Akron-area library cancelled a drag story time because some parents were angry and protested. Little did those angry parents know that they had planted a seed in Ariel Hakim that would blossom into a banned books business bent on providing access to and education about banned books. 

If you have an avid reader on your gift list, a young person you want to encourage or anyone who needs to learn more about banned books, Banned Books Box is offering the perfect gift. 

Banned books, delivered each month along with other fun literary items.

Hakim’s passion to preserve our freedom to read has tangible benefits inside and outside the Akron community. For her, it starts with children.

“I do want children to be exposed to books about diversity of people and all kinds of families,” she said. 

“I started to hear stories about books for children that are LGBTQ oriented," she said.  

Hakim was surprised to find that most of us are living in a box that society has created as protection.

"Some people did not want their children to have access to or other people’s children to have access to [these books],” Hakim said. “I have young children, and I do not think they are ready for the world, but I, as their parent, want to be able to make the decision if I choose if I share this book with them or not."

She doesn't want books being taken from her children.

The movement to ban books was the turning point for Hakim, motivating her to start Banned Books Box for her own children, and the people of the world. 

"That movement has just grown, and for my part I am really offended about this," Hakim said. "I am trying to do something about it."

Banned Books Box offers two ways to purchase books and book accessories: in person at their Northside Marketplace booth, or online as a monthly subscription.

Subscribers receive two banned books, a bookmark and book accessories each month. The shop owner handpicks the accessories and texts to bring awareness to censorship and to highlight banned books. 

Some of the books that have been featured include:


“Out of the Darkness” by Ashley Hope Perez 

“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margret Atwood

“When They Call You a Terrorist” Patrisse Khan-Cullors


If you want your gift to spread awareness, educate and make an impact, you can purchase a subscription online at or buy them a la carte at Northside Marketplace in downtown Akron at 21 Furnace St. 

(left) Photos of the Banned Books Box space in Northside Marketplace. Photos by Julie Cajigas.

To reach content author Madison Latona,  email her here.

Downtown Akron Partnership Announces Downtown Dollars E-Gift Card Program > read more here.