Banned Books Week

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Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.

Of course, I like to read — I’m an English major — but it might surprise you that many of my favorite books have been banned, challenged in libraries, and even made recurring appearances on the American Library Association’s yearly lists of the 10 most banned or challenged books.

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird has been banned and challenged for use of the n-word and, in a case in 2017, because it “makes people uncomfortable.”

One of my YA favorites, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, has received multiple challenges because of its use of offensive language.

Even a childhood favorite, The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, was once banned in a California school because it was believed that it would cause children to turn against the foresting industry.

Banned Books Week is held each year in September, this year from September 23 through September 29, to celebrate the freedom to read. There is value to open access to books and the freedom of information, even if ideas expressed are unpopular.

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Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.

Though many of my favorite books have been banned, I’ve never actually experienced book censorship firsthand, and I help support and promote Banned Books Week so that others can have the same freedom to read that I had growing up.

The 2018 Banned Books Week theme is “Banning Books Silences Stories,” a reminder to all of us that not only do the stories contained in banned books deserve to be told, but that we should speak out against censorship.

The English Department is doing its part to speak out against censorship along with the K-State chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English Honor Society. On Monday September 24, Wednesday September 26, and Friday September 28, volunteers will be tabling in the Union to promote awareness about banned books to students.

Monday through Friday from 12:15 to 12:30 p.m., students and faculty will appear on 91.9 KSDB’s open mic period to read selections from banned books and discuss the importance of Banned Books Week.

The K-State Collegian will also be running a series of reviews over the course of the week highlighting different banned books. Many English majors will be writing about banned books for the wider K-State community.

Be it a picture book in an elementary school library or a classic in a high school classroom, book censorship is something that we should speak about against, and Banned Books Week provides an opportunity, and a platform, to do so. I hope you’ll join us in celebrating the freedom to read.

— Macy Davis (B.A. ’19)

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