You don’t have to march with protest signs to defend your freedom. Start by reading a book. The First Amendment guarantees Americans freedom of speech—and the freedom to read whatever speech we choose. Still, people in every state fight to ban books from classrooms, libraries and bookstores based on their content. The American Library Association’s list of banned and challenged books for 2010 includes not only the usual suspects (The Color Purple, any title beginning with “Harry Potter”), but such “offenders” as the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl.
Banned Books Week, celebrated nationally each September, reminds us that full participation as an adult in a democratic society requires free access to information. No one decides for us what we read.
This week, exercise your intellectual freedom by reading a banned book from the list at www.ala.org/bbooks. Or take it further and discuss banned books with others in your community. The Carmichael Library, located at 5605 Marconi Avenue, hosts a monthly Banned Book Club. The next meeting, which focuses on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, takes place on Sunday, September 26, at 10 a.m. Admission is free. Participants are welcome to bring a snack to share, along with their opinions.
The Winters Community Library marks Banned Books Week with a lecture from retired Davis Senior High School English teacher Karen Street. Don’t Read This! Banned Books in High School happens at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 28. Admission is free. The Winters Community Library is located at 708 Railroad Avenue in Winters.
The Sparks Law Library of Placer County hosts An Obscene Evening in the Library: Obscenity Law and Literature, featuring readings of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” and D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, followed by a lecture on American obscenity laws. The event begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 30. Admission to the library, located at 1523 Lincoln Way in Auburn, is free.