Breahna Lesemann –
Books have been a part of civilization and culture for centuries.
Through books, new ideas spread, but these ideas are not always accepted by those who read the books. This has sometimes lead to books being banned or challenged by various people, libraries, and institutions. At some times the banning is due to misinterpretation and other times it is due to difference in opinion.
This has led to the American Library Association to creating Banned Book Week that celebrates the freedom to read.
In most cases, books are banned or challenged to protect children. The top three reasons for books being challenged are that they are considered sexually explicit, contain offensive language, and are unsuited to any age group. According the Library Bill of Rights, the ALA’s basic policy on accessing information, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.”
Banned Book Week is a week in which libraries, teachers, writers, and all those who have a love for books across the country promote the freedom of reading any books. According to Luke Beatty, the Illinois College Outreach Librarian, “Banned Book Week promotes freedom for authors to write and freedom for readers to read what the authors have written.”
This is an annual event that takes place the last week of September. During this week books that have been banned or challenged in libraries and schools are featured, put on display, read at public readings and shown to the world. The main effort of this week is to prevent the censorship of books.
Many books that are well known have been banned somewhere for a period of time. In 2012 and 2013 the Captain Underpants series was the most frequently challenged. The reasons for the challenges were that it contained offensive language, was unsuited for age group, and contained violence.
As reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom the top five most frequently challenged books in 2013 were the Captain Underpants series, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The Harry Potter series was in the top ten most frequently challenged books from 2001 to 2003.
This year to promote Banned Book Week at IC, Schewe Library made a display of banned books. They also held a public reading of banned or challenged books on Thursday, September 25 in front of the library. Students, faculty, and staff came to the event to listen to and read a wide range of banned or challenged books such as the Holy Bible, Green Eggs and Ham, and The Da Vinci Code.
During this reading there was a contest for the best readings of these banned or challenged books. The readers were judged by Academic Counselor Brett Lurkins, Assistant Professor of Biology Bryan Arnold, Associate Professor of English and Director of the Wrting Center Cynthia Cochran, and Associate Professor of Sociology Jan Buhrmann.
The first place winner was Guus Duindam who read a passage from Candide by Voltaire. The second place winner was Calla Kaufmann who read from Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey.
Breahna Lesemann, from Bath, Illinois, is a sophomore majoring in English Education with a minor in Theatre at Illinois College. Breahna is a writer for the The Rambler and a member of the IC concert choir.