K-State groups celebrate Banned Books Week

Naomi Wood, English professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, runs a panel discussion on book censorship. In honor of banned books week, the reading was held at Bosco Plaza, Sept. 23, 2013.

At noon yesterday, people gathered in chairs to listen as various people associated with the English department read aloud from banned books in Bosco Student Plaza. From noon to 1 p.m. all week long, these public readings will be held in honor of Banned Book Week, a tradition on
campus for over 10 years. Yesterday’s reading began with a poem by Kofi Awoonor, who was
killed Saturday in the mall shooting in Nairobi, Kenya, and voiced by Katy Karlin, associate professor of English.

As one young man read an excerpt from “The Catcher and the Rye,” he hesitantly changed a word that he wasn’t comfortable saying out loud to which Karlin, from the audience, shouted, “Come on, say it. Don’t ban anything.”

The second reader, Naomi Wood, English professor, read from Alvin Schwartz’s “Scary Stories.

“The turnout was excellent,” Wood said. “We often have folks reading to empty chairs.”

Starting in 1982, Banned
Book Week is meant as a celebration of the freedom to read. K-State organization Sigma Tau Delta, Hale Library, and the English department are joining forces with the
American Library Association to do so. Since the 1980s, there has been
over 11,000 books either challenged or banned in America. Daniel Ireton, assistant professor of Hale Library, said that the purpose of this weeklong event is to bring light to the situation.

The challenged books are usually ones with content that involves obscene language, is overly intense or explicitly sexual. Some of the books that were
challenged this year include, “The Absolutely True Diary of a
Part-Time Indian,” “Feed,” “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” and “The Most Dangerous Game.” While some of these are new to the Banned Books List, there
are books – considered classics – that have been challenged for a long

According to bannedbooksweek.org, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by
Mark Twain was challenged in 1885, only one year after it was published. Also
on the list are “The Catcher in the Rye”
by J.D. Salinger and “The Call of the Wild”
by Jack London.

“These books
are never really banned, but [when they are challenged] it does erect a barrier,” Ireton said. “You can still buy these books, but they are removed from many libraries.”