Every year, Banned Books Week is celebrated throughout the nation. It is a time for the literature community to celebrate both the freedom to read and to express.
According to the American Library association, “By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.”
Tuesday, students from ASU participated in a read-out. These students read aloud from books that are now on the “banned” list.
This list includes books ranging from classics like "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "To Kill a Mocking Bird" up to more recent books such as the "Harry Potter" series.
Amanda Hill, a student who participated in Tuesday’s read-out, said, “I think it’s a time where important literature can be seen... and it’s a time to expose the issue that people may not always think about.”
She said that censorship in literature doesn’t allow an open audience to be available for all artists.
“These kinds of ideas and thoughts all need to have an outlet or you run the risk of the majority being the only voice that you hear and the minority being more and more alienated,” Hill said.
Hill said that the censorship of literature could snowball into the censorship and suppression of even more ideas.
Jennifer Gonzales, another student who participated in this week’s Banned Books event, called it a slippery slope.
“Once you start censoring one type of literature, whose to say that other types of literature can’t be censored, and to that extent whose to say that we as individuals can’t be censored,” Gonzales said of the matter.
She said she took part in the event because it is important to recognize that censorship is still prevalent in our society today.
Gonzales said, “It [censorship of literature and art] could end up affecting our individual freedoms and liberties as writers and artists to express ourselves.”
Shaday Reyes, a librarian at the Stephens Central Library, said celebrating Banned Books Week is important in raising awareness.
“Most people aren’t aware that books that they read in high school, classics like '1984' and 'Brave New World' are being banned based on content,” Reyes said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to do with the book or the narrative.”
Reyes explained how Harper Lee’s "To Kill a Mockingbird" has been challenged in schools due to racist content.
“When you examine it from an outside perspective it’s ridiculous. That is the point of the book, that is what we are trying to bring attention to,” Reyes said.
Each year the American Library Association compiles a list of the most challenged books of the year. The complete list of banned books can be found at www.ala.org.