Students give voice to books that were once banned
Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 5:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 5:26 p.m.
When someone says you can't read something, it often makes you want to read it even more.
About 100 students, faculty and staff members gathered at the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out on Thursday to read and listen to books that some people have sought to ban from libraries.
The event was hosted by the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Plaza of the Americas next to Library West.
Banned Books Week is an annual event during the last week of September with the goal of informing people about the censorship of literature and to celebrate the freedom to read, according to its organizers' website.
Paulette Bane, 29, a graduate assistant with the University Writing Program at UF, was among the 20 people who read aloud from a banned book.
"To read literature out loud — Banned Books Week or not — is something I love to do," Bane said, "and any opportunity to celebrate that, I'm there."
Bane read "And Tango Makes Three" by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, which is based on a true story about two male penguins in New York's Central Park Zoo that were given a penguin egg to raise together. She said she picked the book because it's controversial and she wanted to get people talking.
According to the American Libraries Association website, the book was No.1 on the top 10 challenged books list in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010 for its homosexuality content, religious viewpoint and because some felt it was unsuited for its scholastic age group.
Bane offered her Introduction to Argument and Persuasion class extra credit for attending the event.
Ciara Sanon, a 16-year-old freshman chemistry major at UF, is in Bane's class and decided to pick a book to read.
As she was scanning the library's selection of banned books, she came across George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four."
"This is banned?" she said as her eyes widened in disbelief.
As she continued browsing, Sanon found "As I Lay Dying" by William Faulkner.
She said she chose it because she finds books about death to be interesting and philosophical.
"I like it when something that I read makes me think," she said.
Writers should have the freedom to express their opinions and views with the world, but she said she thinks there should be some degree of censorship.
"Words are very powerful," she said, adding that there should be some kind of warning on certain books, similar to the explicit warnings on CDs.
Michele LeSure, the nights and weekends circulation coordinator for Library West at the George A. Smathers Libraries at UF, organized the read-out. She said this is the university's first Virtual Read-Out as far as she knows. In previous years, there have been exhibits for Banned Books Week on the third floor of Library West, or there would be a selection of banned books available.
This year, she decided to organize the read-out when she saw that the American Library Association had an official Banned Book's YouTube channel for the Virtual Read-Out. LeSure videotaped the readers and plans to create a video of highlights from the event and upload it to YouTube.
She said said she was excited to organize the readout because it's fun to listen to other people read.
"We're children for a very short period of time, but we don't ever lose the love of hearing someone read to us," she said.