Troy University is taking part in the national event Banned Books Week, which honors people’s freedom to read whatever they want.
On Wednesday, Big Read sponsored a Banned Book Board on the quad. Any student who signed the board was asked to include his/her name and the name of a banned book that he/she had read. The students were able to get free merchandise including several pins that said things like “I read banned books” or “fREADom” and bookmarks featuring quotes about banned books from famous authors.
“We got the Big Read grant this year,” Kami Merritt, a Big Read consultant said. “And this is one of the things we tied in with the Banned Books week to say, ‘hey – everybody should have the right to read whatever they want to read.’”
Three lists were provided with the titles of banned books. Two of the lists featured the Top 10 banned books from the last 10 years. The third list included the names of banned books that shaped America. Some of the more recently published banned books, like Harry Potter, were on the list, but others, like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, were also listed.
“The freshman reader this year, ‘Fahrenheit 451’,” Merritt said, “has been a banned book. ‘Harry Potter.’ ‘Twilight.’ You’ve got everything from Tom Sawyer to Huckleberry Finn to ‘The Great Gatsby’. There’s a huge list. You’d be shocked by all of them.”
Beth Hyatt, a graduate student studying Strategic Communications from Greenville, believes that trying to ban books will have the opposite effect.
“As a whole, people are going to do what they aren’t supposed to,” Hyatt said. “Making these books ‘banned’ will probably make these books more popular. There are a lot of them listed that I had no idea were considered banned.”
Other students share her feelings. “I think it’ll bring more awareness to books,” said Linda Lewis, an undeclared major from Montgomery. “People will wonder why the books are banned in the first place.”
Merritt believes that Banned Books Week is important and will ultimately give people the freedom to read whatever they want.
“They get banned for different reasons,” Merritt said. “One reason is they’re not age-appropriate and parents decide they don’t want their child reading at a certain age. I think parents still always have that right, but when kids get to be adults I think they should be able to choose what they want to read. Don’t tell us what we can’t read.”
Banned Books Week began in 1982 and occurs every year during the last week of September. According to the American Library Association, more than 11,300 books have been challenged since that time.