Torreyson Library and the English department are hosting public readings to bring awareness to censorship during Banned Books Week, which runs from Sept. 22-28.
Banned Books Week was started in the 80’s in the wake of Island Tree School District v. Pico (1982), which ruled that books could not be banned from schools just because people didn’t agree with their messages. The books in question in this case mostly had to do with race/ethnicity and drug use, things Regan’s America had strong opinions about.
“Every year we do public readings. People can sign up or just stop by and join,” said Hannah Hanshaw of the library’s education and outreach department, “We’ll have a book cart full of books that have been challenged outside. We’re going to be celebrating intellectual freedoms and bringing awareness to the harms of censorship--We don’t like censorship around the library.”
“Lately, most of the books that are being challenged are those that have LGBTQ+ content, it’s really been making people angry. On Wednesday from noon to 1 we’ll be reading and celebrating the LGBTQ+ banned books exclusively,” said Hanshaw, “I’m going to be reading the Marlon Bundo book.”
Every year, the American Library Association releases a list of the top ten most challenged books of the previous year. This year, some included were “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo” by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller (of John Oliver fame), and “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. At least six of the books were challenged specifically for their LGBTQ-inclusive content, a subject that Trump’s America, and local officials, also has strong feelings about.
Most books that are challenged tell the stories of marginalized groups, and that is something to be celebrated, not silenced. Most challenges are initiated by parents and patrons of public and school libraries.
“The English professors like to come down and read chapters out of the classics,” said Hanshaw. Some famously censored books include “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker, “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair, and “1984” by George Orwell.
If you’re too busy to sit down and read a banned book, there are other options.
“We’re also setting up a display of movies that have been adapted from banned books,” said Sandra Hooper, library supervisor.
The Banned Books Week Coalition is an international alliance of organizations dedicated to increasing awareness of the freedom of reading through educating others about the problems of censorship.
You can find out times and more information on UCA’s Banned Books Week event at https://uca.libguides.com/bannedbooksweek. You can learn more about Banned Books Week and the ALA at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/banned.