Release Date: September 25, 2015
BUFFALO, N.Y. – What do The Great Gatsby, Where’s Waldo and Green Eggs and Ham have in common? At one point in history, each of these popular books were either banned or challenged.
The list doesn’t end there. Numerous books, from the ‘great American’ novels to well-known children’s stories, have made the literary blacklist, most often for being sexually explicit or containing offensive language.
More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982, according to the American Library Association. In fact, more than 300 books were challenged in 2014, including Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop, for allegedly promoting violence against fathers.
To celebrate Banned Books Week – an annual awareness campaign held this year from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3 that celebrates the freedom to read – the University at Buffalo Libraries will hold their first Read-Out, where students, faculty and staff are invited to share short passages from a banned book of their choice.
The free event will be held on Monday, Sept. 28 at 3 p.m. in the second floor lobby of Lockwood Library. Refreshments will be served.
“The beginning of the semester is the perfect time to remind students not to take their freedom for granted and to embrace their First Amendment rights,” says Laura Taddeo, head of arts, humanities and social sciences in the UB Libraries.
“Even if a challenge or a ban is well-intended, censorship ultimately denies us the ability to think for ourselves.”
Until Oct. 31, the UB Libraries will also display a banned books exhibit in the lobby of Lockwood Library that will feature a selection of recognizable classic and contemporary novels that cover a range of topics, including race, class, gender and religion. All books on the display can be checked out for reading.
The display includes several popular titles, such as Moby Dick; Ulysses; Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; 50 Shades of Grey; and novels from the Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Gossip Girl series.
So far, reactions to the exhibit have been overwhelmingly positive, says Taddeo, who adds that the Libraries had to restock the exhibit after two weeks because most of the books were checked out.
“Often when you tell someone a book is banned for strong language or sexual content, their eagerness to read the book increases,” says Taddeo. “This spurs more interest than labeling a book as one of the best novels of the twentieth century.”
Taddeo and other UB librarians have also compiled a list of 10 books that most readers may be surprised to learn were banned or challenged.
For more information on banned and challenged books, visit www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks.