ReadOut for Freedom

By on October 1, 2010

Event highlights previously banned, challenged books
by Lynn Meredith
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Public Library on Saturday, Oct. 2, will celebrate the freedom to read books without censorship.

From a podium in the library entryway, participants will read aloud from their favorite classic books, many of which were on lists of banned or challenged titles in the past.

The hour-long ReadOut coincides with the 2010 Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.

“This is an opportunity to share with others books that have been challenged,” library director Beverly Holmes Hughes said. “Open access to information is available and should be available to everyone.”

The ReadOut reading list includes 100 classic titles from which participants may choose one to read for five to 10 minutes during the event (see list).

Rep. Kay Hatcher will kick off the ReadOut as the first reader. She said reading is one of the most important civil liberties people have and that speaking out ensures freedom of access.

“The banning of books keeps us mindful that sometimes we have to go over and above to make sure individual freedoms are respected,” Hatcher said

Hatcher plans to either read from “The Catcher in the Rye” or “Of Mice and Men,” by John Steinbeck.

Books are considered challenged when a parent, teacher, school district, school board member or anyone else questions whether a particular title should be on a library shelf or taught in a classroom. A book is “banned” when a school district removes it from circulation or curriculum.

“Of Mice and Men” has a long history of challenges and banning. Beginning in 1953 and continuing to the present day, it has been banned in several communities due to its “profanity and using God’s name in vain.” Wheaton-Warrenville Middle School in Illinois banned the book in 1988.

Also on the ReadOut list and another past target of censorship was “The Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger. In 1960, a Tulsa, Okla. school district fired a teacher for assigning the book to an 11th-grade English class, according to the American Library Association’s website on the history of banned books. The teacher appealed, and the school district reinstated her but removed the book from the student curriculum. In 1982, a district in Morris, Manitoba, banned “The Catcher in the Rye” for “excess vulgar language, sexual scenes, things concerning moral issues, excessive violence, and anything dealing with the occult.”

Inspiring the ReadOut was Judith Krug, founding executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation, Holmes said.

The Sugar Grove Library Friends and Sugar Grove Online partnered to present the Oct. 2 event. They will donate a video of the ReadOut to the Freedom to Read Foundation.

Reading slots still are available from noon to 1 p.m. Interested readers should contact call (630) 466-1448 to reserve a reading time.

On the reading list

• The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
• The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger
• The Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck
• To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
• The Color Purple by Alice Walker
• Ulysses by James Joyce
• Beloved by Toni Morrison
• The Lord of the Flies
by William Golding
• 1984 by George Orwell
• The Sound and the Fury
by William Faulkner
• Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
• Of Mice and Men
by John Steinbeck
• Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
• A Portrait of the Artist as
a Young Man by James Joyce
• Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
• Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
• Animal Farm by George Orwell
• The Sun Also Rises
by Ernest Hemingway
• As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
• A Farewell to Arms
by Ernest Hemingway
• Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
• Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne