By: Ryleigh Reagan
The 23rd Annual Banned Book Reading at Missouri Western was held on Sept. 26, where eight people each read a passage from a book that has been challenged or banned according to the American Library Association.
The Banned Book Reading is an event sponsored by the Prairie Lands Writing Project, department of education, the library and the English department at Missouri Western. This year, some of the books read were “The Hate You Give,” “The Tempest,” and “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
English professor Michael Cadden said that the event was an opportunity to fight for freedom of literacy.
“There’s a list that comes out every year of books that have been banned or challenged within the past year,” Cadden said. “They tend to be connected to schools primarily, often they become school board cases.”
Cadden said that these books were usually banned because the readings contained explicit material.
“The number one reason is depictions of sexuality or what people would consider profane language,” Cadden said. “Sometimes it’s depictions of violence and more rarely it has to do with ideology or political ideas that are being expressed in the book.”
Eight readers participated at the event. The readers were city council members, local librarians, teachers and students who were invited by Cadden. Cadden was one of the people that helped to start this event at Missouri Western and continues to host it every year.
Readers each share a little about why the book they are reading has been challenged or banned and why they chose that book. Cadden said that people should come not only because of the refreshments but because he believes people should take advantage of their entitlements.
“They should come because it’s one of those exercises like voting or anything that is a celebration of their rights,” Cadden said. “It’s an awareness building exercise.”
St. Joseph city council member Brian Myers was one of the readers for the night. He said he chose the book, “Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo, because it was singled out for a reason.
“If it offends someone, it’s probably interesting enough for me to see what it’s about,” Myers said.
Myers also said that books are important to understanding where we come from. “Banned books are a part of history; If you don’t continually study and read about history, then a lot of those lessons are lost,” Myers said. “Sometimes you have to relearn them the hard way, especially in this day and age.”
For more information about literary events on campus, visit missouriwestern.edu/library/.