For the second year in a row, Central Michigan University is celebrating Banned Books Week by introducing students to the many books banned by governments or schools throughout the world.
The week, organized and sponsored by The Riecker Literary Series, CMU’s Department of English Language and Literature, the Chippewa River District Library and CMU Libraries, is a combination of banned book awareness and special events held throughout the week.
“Books affect us in different ways. Just because a book sparks an emotion or makes us feel sad, we shouldn’t ban it,” said Banned Book Week organizer and English professor Melissa Smith. “Children need to learn to think critically. They need books that challenge thought. People have to make decisions for themselves whether or not a book is right for them.”
Books have been banned around the world for various reasons. James Joyce’s book “Ulysses” was banned for being indecent and obscene, E. L. James book “Fifty Shades of Grey” was banned for being sexually explicit and having offensive language and Alvin Schwartz’s series “Scary Stories” was banned for violence and unsuitable for its age group.
“I appreciated the ‘Scary Stories’ series. Kids need to experience fear. It’s a part of life, but they need to experience it in a safe way,” Smith said.
As Smith and a handful of volunteers passed out free bookmarks and banned book flyers to passersby in front of the Bovee University Center on Monday, many students took notice and proclaimed their opinion on banned books.
“Banning books is stupid. Every book has a message to give. It’s not right to cut off that message,” said Riverview junior Victoria Daniels. “Everyone should have a chance to share their ideas without having some authority tell them they can’t do that.”
Lowell junior Tracey Johnson, a volunteer helping during Banned Books Week agrees.
“No one should tell you what you can or can’t read. I’m completely against banning books,” Johnson said.
The last two events of the week are film screening of “Hey Boo: Harper Lee and ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’” in the Park Library Auditorium at 7 p.m. Sept. 25 and a panel discussion of “Horror, Religion, and Sex, Ho My! Why Texts Get Banned,” 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 26 at Kiva in Moore Hall.
For more information about banned book week, visit cmichbannedbooks.weebly.com