Community Leaders Participate in "Banned Books Week"
Books that have been challenged or banned in libraries and schools took center stage Tuesday night, as part of Banned Book Week. Local authors, educators and community leaders gathered at the University of Nevada, Reno Tuesday to read passages from their favorite banned book at an event titled, "I Read Banned Books."
You might be surprised by the books that made the "banned" list. Titles like Huckleberry Finn, The Hunger Games and To Kill a Mockingbird are on the list.
Some are classics, others may contain some violence or some profanity. The books aren't for everyone, but the folks at Tuesday's event say, that's not the point.
"I think it's important that everyone have the freedom to choose what they want to read and not let other people decide what they're going to read," said Arnie Maurins, who is the Director of the Washoe County Library System.
Maurins read an excerpt from To Kill a Mockingbird at the Banned Books Event. It's a book that some say should be taken off summer reading lists at schools because it contains a rape and racial slurs. Maurins disagrees.
"I read it for the first time in middle school and I remember the big impression it had on me," Maurins said. "I had not been exposed to those kind of racial attitudes before."
Local author Ellen Hopkins has written nine best-sellers about teenage drug addiction and other turmoil. Her book "Crank" was the most-challenged book in 2010.
"They're a little strong for some readers," Hopkins said. "But for other readers they're exactly what they need." When asked what teenagers have said to her about the books, she replied "that I've saved their lives, that I've turned them away from meth, that I've kept them from considering suicide."
Christina Barr, the new mother of a three-month-old baby girl, read from Shel Silverstein's "Where the Sidewalk Ends" - a book of poems that parents have been reading to their kids for years. The book has been challenged in some schools because of claims that it encourages children to rebel against their parents. Barr says as a parent, she wants to be able to choose what her daughter will eventually read.
"When she's ready she can ask the questions and I'll be able to give her answers and good books and literature that help her explore her world and understand things," Barr said.
Maurins says most of these book challenges have happened in schools or libraries in other states.
"We haven't had many at the public library. Washoe County has had two to three complaints over the years, so it hasn't been a major issue," Maurins said.