The Winthrop English Department, The Winthrop Literary Society and the Winthrop affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), hosted their fifth annual banned book reading on Tuesday. The event, which coincides with National Banned Books Week, saw the reading of four books that are either banned or seriously challenged because they are considered unsuitable for young readers.
Before the actual readings took place, attendees and students were informed as to why and how books can be challenged and banned. Robert Prickett, associate professor of English and also the faculty sponsor of the NCTE, explained that books are usually challenged by parents to be kept out of schools and public libraries. The reasons for challenges of the past twenty years were also revealed, with sexually explicit content as leading reason. Other reasons included offensive language, being unsuited for an age group and violent content.
“Each place is different,” Prickett said. “There tends to be a formalized structure because of the simple nature of them taking place in school settings or in library settings. You’re seeing in this 20 year period, an average of almost 500 books being challenged or banned per year.”
The event began with a reading from an excerpt from Lois Duncan’s 1978 novel “Killing Mr. Griffin.” The second excerpt was from “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier. The third reading was a section from “Captain Underpants & the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants” by Dav Pilkey. The final reading of the evening was a section from “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison.
The event concluded with the audience being asked which novels members before had read. An overwhelming majority of those in attendance had read the Captain Underpants novels, while the other novels saw few people have experience with them before. Despite the unfamiliarity with the novels, students seemed to really enjoy the event, overall.
“I loved the way that they not only presented why books are banned, but I also liked hearing the justifications that they gave in not banning these books,” said freshman Veronica Pieretti.