Celebrating Banned Books

By Katie Girvan The Honnold/Mudd Library is hosting Banned Books Week.  However, instead of being only a week long, the event is being held for the entire month of Sept.  Promoted by the library’s Outreach Community, the event aims to share a variety of banned books to students ranging from those published in 475 BCE to those published in the present day.

To add to the fun, the library is even playing a trivia game using Facebook and Twitter featuring banned books.  The questions are about banned books throughout history.

For instance, one question was, “All of which author’s works were burned in 213 BC China, except for one copy of each title, saved in the Chinese State Library?”  The answer: Confucius.  If a student guessed that correctly, they had a chance to win a $50 gift certificate.

The banned books beings promoted are considered some of the most influential works in the world.  For instance, during 213 BCE, many of Confucius’s teachings were burned during the Qin Dynasty, and Martin Luther's "Ninety-Five Theses" were banned in 1517 in Germany, France, and Rome for heresy.

Other banned books are part of many high school curriculums such as "Of Mice and Men," "The Catcher in the Rye," "Lord of the Flies," and "To Kill a Mockingbird."  These cherished classics have been dubbed “blasphemous,” “vulgar,” and “obscene” among other choice words.  In 1980, the Vernon Verona Sherill School District in New York called "To Kill a Mockingbird" a “filthy, trashy novel.” Even more modern books have been challenged such as the "Harry Potter" series; many school districts claimed that the series encouraged witchcraft and interest in the occult.  In New Mexico, it was even burned and labeled as a “masterpiece of satanic deception.”

The Honnold/Mudd Library encourages students to come check out banned books of all eras from the library. Their website, http://libraries.claremont.edu, contains a link to their homepage for banned books month, along with a guide organized by historical date of all the banned books the library currently has available for students.