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Friday, September 9, 2022

Banned Books Week at URI celebrates the right to read

Features authors who will read from their banned books

By Jane Fusco

A sampling of banned books from the ACLU

To celebrate and encourage the freedom to read, the University of Rhode Island’s Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies will hold a series of events during Banned Books Week, Sept. 19-23, to bring awareness to censored and challenged books.

Tiffany D. Jackson, filmmaker and New York Times bestselling author of Monday’s Not Coming, a 2021 banned book, will be the guest speaker on Sept. 19, at 4 p.m., in the Paff auditorium on the Providence campus.

Drag Story Hours on Sept. 22 and 23 at 7 pm, in the Providence campus library, will feature drag queens and kings, reading from currently banned children’s books. The drag performers scheduled to appear are: Siobhan LaPorte-Cauley, Ottavia De Luca, Marc Tiberiis, and Patricia Tulli-Hawkridge from OutLoud Theatre, and the Trailer Park Girls ensemble.

Banned Books Week Schedule of Events

‘Papa Marc’ presents the 2021 Banned Books for the URI Drag Queens and Kings Book Reading at the Providence Campus Library.

Monday, Sept. 19 – Tiffany D. Jackson
New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction; author of 2021 banned book, Monday’s Not Coming

4 p.m. – Paff Auditorium. Providence Campus

Wednesday, Sept. 21 – Open Forum and Panel Discussion
Censorship and navigating the challenges of contested books and topics.
Panel of teachers, school librarians and information specialists.

7 pm –Center for Biological and Life Sciences (CBLS), Room 010
Kingston Campus (Parking available in the Chafee Lot) 

Thursday, Sept. 22 – BANNED: It’s a Drag! reading hour
7 p.m. – Providence Campus library     

Friday, Sept. 23 – BANNED: It’s a Drag! reading hour
7 p.m. – Providence Campus library     

Book banning, particularly children’s books, is one of the most widespread forms of censorship, claiming that readers will be swayed by the book’s content, or the material is considered to be sexually explicit, contain offensive language, or unsuitable for a particular age group.

Each year, the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association, compiles a list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books to inform the public about censorship.

“Banned Books Week celebrates our right to read. Censorship has devastating consequences. Reading allows us a glimpse into others’ worlds. We experience perspectives vicariously through submerging ourselves in topics with which we have little experience. Who should dictate those topics?  Ask yourself, ‘who is the arbiter?’  When a small group becomes the arbiter for the rest, we lose our freedom to make decisions for ourselves. I’m thrilled that URI is standing up for our right to read,” said Theresa Deeney, professor of reading, language, and learning disabilities in URI’s School of Education, and one of the event organizers.

Launched in 1982, Banned Books Week was a response to a sudden surge in the number of challenged books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. 

Typically held in September, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read and informs current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools, while supporting the value of free and open access to information.

The banned book lists are based on information from media stories and voluntary challenge reports from communities across the United States.