By Eesha Pendharkar
BU News Service
Somerville Public Library hosted an event along with SCATV on October 1 to celebrate its first Banned Books Week. About 20 people attended the event with their own banned or challenged books or chose from the library’s selection for excerpts to read aloud.
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 by the American Library Association in response to the sudden surge in books being challenged by communities or schools. Since then, more than 11,300 books have been challenged.
Glenn Ferdman, the director of libraries for Somerville, said that the event was meant to celebrate free speech.
“We stand in stand in solidarity supporting the right to free speech and freedom of expression,” Ferdman said.
The library displayed around 30 banned books with tabs explaining the reasons behind the challenge or ban. The display included best-selling books like “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” which was challenged for promoting ungodliness and depicting women in strong leadership roles, and “The Fault In Our Stars,” which was banned in several markets for crude language and sexual content.
Heidi Downing from the Somerville Public Library and Erica Jones from SCATV collaborated in the event where people read the seemingly controversial parts out loud from their favorite banned books. A mother read out part of Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax” as her 2-and-a-half-year-old son stood beside her on a chair and made character sounds when his favorite pages were read out. The Lorax was challenged in California for being unfair to the logging industry. Some of the other selections read included passages from “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov, “Tarzan of the Apes” by Edgar Rice Burroughs and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain.
Somerville Public Library has defended its books when they were challenged twice in the past few years.
Downing said that the library plans on hosting the event next year.