UConn celebrates Banned Books Week with Virtual Read Out
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 22:10
In celebration of Banned Books Week, UConn is participating in Virtual Read Out. Students and faculty record themselves reading excerpts from books that have been banned and submit them online.
“People challenge books for all kinds of reasons,” said Suzy Staubach, manager of general books at the Co-op. “They think they’re protecting someone, but really, we have a right to read whatever we want.”
Banned Books Week began on Sept. 30 and lasts until Oct. 6. Celebrated in America since 1982, libraries and bookstores across the country have staged local read-outs. This is the second year that videos of such readings have been posted online and featured on Youtube.
Throughout the history of America, many books that challenge accepted practices or beliefs have been banned in order to prevent differing viewpoints and ideas. These books include “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” “Catch-22” and “Catcher in the Rye.” Some of the many reasons that books like these were criticized and banned include racism, violence, sexual content, anti-white statements, undermined morality and profanity.
“We have to have diverse ideas,” said Staubach.
More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982, according to the Banned Books website. Hundreds of challenges occur every year, and many of them go unreported. Different incidents happen across the country, like that of the proposed banning of Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax.”
“I was very surprised,” said Alex Norman, a 5th-semester political science major. “You don’t think new books would still be banned, especially children’s books.”
Norman knew that some of the titles displayed at the Co-op were banned, like “The Bible” and “The Great Gatsby,” but he was surprised at some of the newer books, like “The Hunger Games” and “Harry Potter.” Virtual Read Out demonstrates how often censorship occurs within America itself, let alone other countries, and encourages citizens nationwide to become aware of censorship.
UConn works with the American Booksellers Foundation for Freedom of Expression and the American Civil Liberties Union to support the freedom of speech and citizens’ rights in the First Amendment. If need be, the groups will go to court against censorship to ensure this freedom.
A special reading was conducted at 4 p.m. yesterday by David Markowicz, a retired math professor at the university. He kicked off the first of the video readings, which will be available for anyone to do throughout the week. Staubach encourages students to choose a book from the table and read an excerpt to support the cause. With a video camera set up inside of the Co-op, all are welcome to do so at any time of the day.