Eight people came together Tuesday in Spratt 214 to read for the fifteenth annual “Reading of Challenged and Banned Books” for Banned Books Week.
According to the American Library Association, (ALA) banned books week is an annual event held on the last week of September that celebrates the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. The readers and listeners were all brought together with a shared purpose for exercising intellectual rights as students, teachers and readers in general.
Dr. Michael Cadden, a professor of English here at MWSU, started the event by reminding the audience the purpose for their readings. “Freedom is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours,” Cadden said from the Freedom to Read Statement of the ALA.
Our readers this year (in order of appearance) consisted of; Bridget Blevins, anchor and producer of K-Q2 News; Stephanie Hartley, member of the Prairie Lands Writing Project; President of Missouri Western Dr. Robert Vartabedian; Synthia Tunnell, president of the student chapter of the International Reading Association; Jessica McMinn, president of the student chapter of the National Council of Teachers of English; Dr. Steven Greiert, chair of the history department; Dr. Karen Fulton, a professor of English.
The eight readers all chose one book to read from and mention why the book is banned or often challenged. All of the readers had different reasons for choosing their books. Some chose their books by briefly explaining how they related to the story on personal levels; others explained how people could benefit from reading the book they chose.
Some examples of material read, such as “Junie B. Jones” and “Walter the Farting Dog,” are children’s books that are frequently challenged or banned due to language usage. Junie B. Jones is a character that often uses negative words like stupid, dumb or idiot, while the book “Walter the Farting Dog” is disliked by some parents for its frequent usage of the word “fart,” used throughout its short story 24 times.
Some other books read tonight were more serious adult readings, like that of Vartabedian’s presentation on the poem, “The Alphabet of Revolution,” and Dr. Greiert’s reading of “The Jungle.” These were examples of readings that are frequently challenged or banned due to its controversial content during the times they were commonly read, such as political reasoning.
Snacks and drinks were provided for the audience members after the readings. More information and lists of challenged and banned books can be found at www.ala.org