Banned books event highlights freedom to read

Vincent M. Franco
Arts Editor 

Abelina J. Nuñez
LV Life Editor 

The University’s Wilson Library honored Banned Books Week this week with a display where students could pick up great works that have been banned by some schools and libraries across the country. 

Among those on display were “The Hate You Give” by Angie Thomas, “Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Pérez, “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, and “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie. 

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” has been on the American Library association’s list of most challenged books six times since it was first published in 2007. 

“Think about the effects that that has on other people, and how people may not be able to see themselves in (other books), but they may be able to see themselves in the Adventures of a Part-Time Indian,” said Scheradyn Hall, senior liberal arts major.

This year’s Banned Books Week is themed “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.”

Banned Books Week, designed to be a celebration of free speech and freedom to read, was started in 1982 by a group of organizations, including the American Library Association, after rash challenges to books by bookstores, schools and libraries across the country.

“Books tell someone’s story from someone’s perspective, so eliminating those books is like silencing the author,” Keara Barron, freshman business administration major, said. 

Barron said she enjoys reading cultural psychology books about what it’s like being a first-generation college student, or how it feels to be a young teenager, especially as a Latino. 

These types of books are the kind that might be challenged. 

Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from ‘inappropriate’ sexual content or ‘offensive’ language,” according to the American Library Association.

According to the Association, the most commonly cited reasons behind the desire to ban books are the inclusion of offensive material, sexually explicit material or material considered to be unsuited to any age group within books.

Many books end up banned because they talk about racial issues, sexual situations, violence, witchcraft or religion.

“I think Banned Books Week is an important way to highlight the kind of works that have been tried to be suppressed,” said Jennifer Cady, associate professor and coordinator of resource development services for Wilson Library. “I think it’s important for libraries to acknowledge the history of it.”

Cady added that it is important for libraries to acknowledge that these works can and should exist and be available to all. 

According to the American Library Association, In 2021, there were more than 729 attempts to censor library resources, and 1,597 books were targeted for bans, which represents the highest number of attempted book bans in more than 20 years.

The list of books from the American Library Association also shows that most targeted books were written by or about Black or LGBTQ people. 

“A lot of them have been banned because they’re by Black, or about Black people so just kind of bringing about this awareness,” Sabrina Mora, Wilson Library supervisor and circulation and marketing and media specialist, said. 

“It kind of makes you think sometimes, especially if it’s part of your belief system or your culture,” Mora said. “And so you might not think it would be something that would be banned. But other people might think, ‘well, you know, we don’t like this.’”

“What do you gain by banning someone’s creative expression? Why do you care what we read that deeply?” Hall added. “Are you that intimidated by the idea of revolt, or someone standing up for what they believe in?”

Vincent M. Franco can be reached at vincent.franco@laverne.edu

Abelina J. Nuñez can be reached at abelina.nunez@laverne.edu

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Vincent Matthew Franco is a senior journalism major with a concentration in print and online journalism. He has been involved in journalism and print media in high school, community college and is now at the arts editor of the Campus Times.

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Abelina J. Nuñez is a junior journalism major and LV Life editor for the Campus Times. She has previous served as social media editor and staff writer.

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