By J1Reporter Stevie Salerno
The last week of September is anticipated by readers around the world. Banned Book Week brings together both the reading and book community in favor of freedom to express ideas. These books capture readers of all ages and bring forth important lessons and stories that shape people’s minds. If books that are challenged or banned are truly taken away, people may lose a sense of freedom.
Marian’s librarian, Molly Raabe shared why she believes freedom of books is so
important. She said that if people do not want to read a book, simply don’t, and if they do, then do. “Someone will always be unhappy and that’s their freedom. The problem comes in when you try to dictate what others can and cannot read. It depends on maturity, reading level and the book’s content. In the library I’m not saying you must read a certain book, which is different than in a classroom. Marian chooses books with a reason behind it for the students. In the library I really do try not to censor what you’re reading,” Raabe said. “I do follow the Marian core values and consider every book I purchase. If a girl wants a book that isn’t quite a fit at Marian, I explain how it is available at the Omaha public library or a bookstore. A 14 year old may read what an 18 year old does. It truly all depends on the reader. If you allow something to be taken away on its views, then a person with opposing views to you will want to do the exact same thing” Raabe said. She said that if you can vote, you can read what you want. This means that if you are old enough to voice your opinion for our country, you should be able to read what you please.
English department chair, Susie Sisson shared how during the first year Marian taught the book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, there were objections by parents of a freshman. The parents were disturbed by the rape scene and the general language. Sisson and other English teachers had several meeting with these parents and the principal was also involved. They wanted the book to be pulled and the Marian English department disagreed with them. “I welcome the opportunity to teach books like that. I think books that get challenged tend to be interesting, thought-provoking and relevant. They lend themselves to interesting conversations in class. Marian picks books carefully with intentional decisions and we want our students to have equal access to those books,” Sisson said. This Maya Angelou book is still being taught in the ninth grade curriculum 25 years later.
Albert Camus once said, “A free press can be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom a press will never be anything but bad.” Books have the power to influence people’s minds and provoke groundbreaking thoughts. Banned Book Week has brought attention to both controversial and burned books since 1982. This week reminds the world that without these books, readers lose a sense of freedom and wonder.