Right to Read
Banned Books Week reminds campus of U.S. censorship history
Published: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 21:09
Texas A&M will promote the right to read by participating in this year’s Banned Books Week, an annual nationwide awareness week that celebrates the freedom of expression through reading and raises awareness of the continued practice of banning books within U.S. communities.
This year’s Banned Books“Texas A&M University Libraries likes to celebrate Banned Books Week because it is an opportunity to talk about the importance of having free access to all information — a mission that the University Libraries takes very seriously,” Zinn said. “Banned Books Week resonates with students because they are often surprised and amused to discover that many of the books that they have read appeared on a banned book list at one time.”
Many popular books on the list are literary classics. Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director for the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, said the books on the top-10 list are a general reflection of what books are frequently challenged by parents and community groups.
“‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ is a perennial on the top-10 list of Banned Books Week, as is the ‘Diary of Anne Frank,’” Caldwell-Stone said. “Both classics that are beloved but some parents and community members find [them] disturbing and have asked them to be removed from schools.”
Caldwell-Stone also said censorship has historically come from a variety of places.
“Another one is ‘Huckleberry Finn,’” she said. “That’s actually a book that is challenged generally from both sides of the political aisle. You’ll even see books like the ‘Harry Potter’ series, a series beloved by millions, on the list.”
Inessa Spencer, a representative of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, said she hopes Banned Books Week will help students realize that book banning is not just a foreign phenomenon, but something that happens right here in America.
“I hope Banned Books Week educates students to realize that there are people who ban books unfortunately in our country,” Spencer said. “It doesn’t just happen in other countries. It happens in the United States as well.”
Spencer said the censorship of books often comes from people who are not educated on the matter.
“We have to realize that often the books that we read in schools are the books that have been chosen by teachers and they are the educated ones and the ones who have gotten a degree and can make the best decisions on that and people who ban books are often not the educated ones,” Spencer said. “They are often the parents or community members who of course have a right to tell their own children what to read but should not try to tell other children what to read.”
Week will take place Sunday through Saturday, during which Texas A&M will be highlighting five books through social media contests and participating in other social media outreaches to connect students to Banned Books Week.
Patrick Zinn, marketing manager of Texas A&M University Libraries, said the media competitions will be similar to last year’s and will most likely include a Facebook competition wherein the library posts a quote from a previously banned book, and the first person to guess the correct book wins a Starbucks gift card.
Zinn said Texas A&M participates in Banned Books Week so students realize the significance of having access to knowledge.