Plattsburgh State English Professor Tracie Church-Guzzio and her first-year students participated in a book reading, Wednesday, Sept. 28, at Feinberg Library in support of Banned Books Week.
This is the fifth annual book reading that PSUC has participated in. However, this is the first time the readings were done exclusively by freshmen students.
Each of the readings were five minute excerpts from a student’s respective chosen piece of literature. 23 students participated in this book reading for Church-Guzzio’s Multicultural American Literature class. After this reading the students had to do research on the book they chose and then write an essay on what they discovered.
Banned Book Week, held Sept. 25 through Oct. 8, aims to raise awareness for prohibited books throughout history. The list serves as ban on literature challenged by schools and the government. These books, plays, or essays were called to be censored because of immoral, religious, sexual or racial content. The theme for this year’s reading was “diversity.” The books showcased in the reading tackled many diverse issues, but also focused on diverse authors.
Some of the works that were featured at the reading were “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “The Crucible,” and “The Kite Runner.” There were two plays and two graphic novels read as well.
Dean of Library and Information Technology Services Holly Heller-Ross opened the event by saying a quick thank you to everyone in attendance and showed her support for everyone who participated.
Associate Librarian Tim Hartnett, said this list isn’t helpful to students and their learning, and said a lot of these books, if not formally banned, are hidden in the back of libraries to be forgotten about because angry parents think the books are not suitable for their children to read.
PSUC student Haleigh Agans read “The Kite Runner.” She said she read most of the books on the list in school and didn’t actually know they were considered “banned books.”
She said she chose the “The Kite Runner” because she learned a lot from the book, and she felt that others could benefit from its message.
“They banned this book because of rape and vulgar language,” Agens said.
She believes the book was actually banned for religious reasons. She said even though she hasn’t read all the books on the list, she definitely believes many of these books should not be on this list.
PSUC student Reece Bijou read the graphic novel “Persepolis,” about a young girl who witnesses the Iranian revolution. This book made the ban list due to “graphic images.”
Bijou said this book was banned for kids only in grade eight and lower. He thought for the age group the ban was suitable, but also said it was “blown out of proportion.”
Bijou also said he wasn’t sure why there was a list in the first place, as it seemed pointless.
Church-Guzzio said her favorite banned book, “The Invisible Man,” was given awards in the 1950’s, but still banned because of its attempts to show diversity through the “invisible” man, who was representative of anyone who wasn’t the “stereotypical white male.”
Almost every student who participated in the readings believed their respective books shouldn’t have been on the list, and that it would be academically beneficial if students had access to these books without restriction.
“I have found if you ban something from kids, they usually want to read it,” Church-Guzzio said.
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