Library including some popular banned books titles. Photo credit: Lora Neshovska

Freedom to read

Fourth annual banned book read-out celebrates constitutional right to free speech.
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For the fourth consecutive year, the Humboldt Center for Constitutional Rights and the Humboldt University Library came together to celebrate freedom of speech with a read-out of banned books on Oct. 4.

Community members and Humboldt State University students gathered to read their favorite “dangerous” books.

From classic literature to children’s books, titles such as “The Grapes of Wrath,” “The Kite Runner” and “Where the Wild Things Are” have been banned or challenged by various schools and public libraries for reasons such as profanity, explicit or sexual content and controversial themes.

The American Library Association gathers a yearly list of banned books and keeps record of any challenges against the inclusion of books in libraries or school curriculum.

Senior at HSU, Erika Delos Reyes, 32, says many of these banned books were introduced to readers as children. Delos Reyes, a Communication major, read an excerpt of a favorite book of hers, “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes at the read-out.

HSU alumnus Donald Forrest read part of the 1959 short story “The Time of Her Time” by Norman Mailer. Forrest says at 12 years old, this was the first piece of “dirty” literature he ever found in a banned place – his dad’s sock drawer.

“It’s an artifact of a time; of defiant misogyny,” Forrest said

Tommy Woodruff, a 20-year old junior, attended the read-out because he was interested to see the different banned books. Woodruff said it was interesting that so many children’s books have been banned, such as “The Lorax” and “And Tango Makes Three,” a book about a family of two male penguins based on a true story.

“It’s ridiculous, you can’t hide information from people,” Woodruff said.

The exhibit on banned books is on display at the HSU library until Monday, Oct. 9.

*Marcy Burstiner, faculty adviser of The Lumberjack is the Chair of Humboldt Center for Constitutional Rights.

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