DC at Night

DC at Night

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Celebrating Banned Books Week

Even with the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, America has been, and continues to be, the scene of literary censorship and book bannings. While much of the focus is on books written for younger readers, almost all our American classics - Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, Catch-22, have come under fire from critics who wanted them removed from school or local library shelves.

But the champions of the freedom to create, express, and read whatever one wants have a powerful weapon in their arsenal in the censorship wars - Banned Books Week.

Launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries, Banned Books Week is the national book community's annual celebration of the freedom to read. 

And as it has since the inception, the DC Public Library is taking part in the week by staging a series of events calling attention to the problem of censorship.

UNCENSORED: The Art Exhibition is a temporary public art event at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. The Great Hall has been transformed into a gallery, showcasing works of art by local D.C. artists pertaining to the theme of censorship. In addition to the Great Hall, the exhibition space will include the large entryway windows and parts of the second floor. 

Here are just 3 examples of what you will see in the exhibit, which will remain on display until Oct. 18.

Pay No Attention by Halsey Barryman

A sign painter by trade, Berryman generated a few samples of signs using quotes from George Orwell's 1984. He then incorporated these into an installation of hand-painted signs based on quotes that deal with censorship and are found in a number of banned books.

Kathryn Cote

Cote created a sculpture painting that explores the concept of the "wallflower" as it pertains to literary censorship. Each panel is covered in a series of small, paper roses which have been constructed using printed news articles and academic journals discussing controversial topics that appear throughtout the often-challenged young adult book The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Janelle Ortiz

Censorship of art reached a pinnacle with the Nazis in World War II. To rid works the Nazis did not favor they burned them. Setting fire has also been common for many other censored and rejected items including books. For this exhibit, Ortiz built a pedestal from traditional materials and burned it prior to the installation.

Other events for the week include:

The Birmingham Jail Players Present:
A Celebration of Our Freedom to Read
Wednesday, 6 p.m.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

A group of lively DCPL employees who came together for King Week earlier this year, reunite to celebrate Banned Books Week by reciting excerpts from the works of their favorite challenged authors. Come hear the words of such authors as Kurt Vonnegut, Judy Blume, Mildred Taylor, Toni Morrison, and many more. They will be joined byAzar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, known for her outspoken defense of the freedom to read and the power of literature to change the world.

Teen Reading
Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.
Mt. Pleasant Library

Are you a teen who loves to read? Do you need to earn some community service hours?
Join the Mt. Pleasant Library Teen Book Club!
This week we will celebrate Banned Books Week by reading books that have been challenged or banned in school and public libraries. Grab a related book and come chat Wednesday, Sept 24 at 4:30 p.m. in the Teen Space on the Lower Level. Library staff will have some favorites out on display and you can always ask for suggestions at the Information Desk. 

I Read Banned Comics
Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Northeast Library

Join us in focusing on freedom of information and expression by bringing your favorite graphic novel or comic and sharing a little bit about why you like it with others.  Come and hear about what others love and why.  We'll also have some great suggestions for those who are just curious about the popular genre and those who are veteran readers.

Read-Out! Harry Potter
Tuesday, 6 p.m.
Benning Library

We will be reading some of our favorite banned books at Read-Out! this month. Come by and listen to the first chapters of 
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneCaptain Underpants, and other banned favorites. This program is appropriate for children ages 8-12 and will take place in the children's story circle. 

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