The First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech is one of this country’s most cherished rights. To celebrate that right, one week has been set aside each fall for more 30 years to recognize the freedom to read and to draw attention to books that have been challenged or banned in libraries and schools.
This year, Banned Books Week will run from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3 and will focus on Young Adult books, which have made up the majority of most frequently challenged books in recent years.
To kick off the week, FIU Libraries will be hosting its first ever “Flash Mob Read Out” on Monday, Sept. 28, at 4 p.m. Organizers are encouraging faculty, staff and students at both campuses to head outside, whether individually or with a group of friends, and read aloud from their favorite banned books.
In addition, as part of a 15-year FIU tradition, university research librarian Lauren Christos will host a “Banned Books Read Out” at the Biscayne Bay Campus. Students, staff and faculty will read passages from banned or challenged books and discuss the impact of censorship on education and civil liberties.
“Banned Books Week is an event that brings to light the importance of the right for free people to read freely,” Christos says. “I believe it is an obligation to exercise our First Amendment right and take a stand against challenges of censorship, restriction to access of information, and to support the freedom to express ideas, however controversial.”
This year’s read out will take place on Thursday, Oct. 1, from 2 to 4 p.m. in room 175.
Reference Librarian Beatriz F. Fernandez has created a Banned Books Week display in the Green Library’s New Book Lounge; this year’s theme centers on banned authors from around the world. Fernandez’s love of reading and knowledge began with her mother, an avid reader who read “forbidden” books in her older brother’s library as a child.
“She passed on her love of reading to me by never censoring anything I read as a child. The personal freedom to choose what ideas entered my mind, limited only by my ability to understand and absorb what I read, was her greatest gift to me. No one should grow up without experiencing and treasuring this freedom.”
Banned Books Week is sponsored by a number of organizations, including the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, the Freedom to Read Foundation, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. It is also endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.