"Harry Potter," "Like Water For Chocolate," and "To Kill A Mockingbird" are some of the books being highlighted by the Central Arkansas Library System as part of Banned Books Week.
It's part of an annual, nationwide celebration of the First Amendment is sponsored by the American Library Association. Brad Mooy, with the library system, says this year’s series of events will be the largest yet for CALS.
“I think we had about four, or five, or six programs last year,” said Mooy. “And I think we have 16 this year and they are all free in ten different venues.”
Events inspired by books that have been challenged or banned in the U.S. include movie screenings of “James and the Giant Peach” and “Alice in Wonderland,” a session for teens and adults entitled Fighting a Surveillance Society, and a discussion for writers on the differences between romance and erotica.
Mooy said one of the programs new for this year is the Edible Book Contest in which participants will be challenged to create a representation of the title of a book from entirely edible materials.
Like most libraries, CALS occasionally receives challenges to books or DVDs on its shelves. Philip Jones is one of the library staffers who review materials that are challenged by library patrons.
“Probably most frequently portrayals of sexual situations and language are probably the the most common things that are objected to,” Jones said.
According to Jones, the library receives four to five challenges each year, but material is rarely removed completely from the shelves. It’s more common, he says, for challenged materials to be shelved and cataloged into a more appropriate section of the library. For example, moving a book from the children's section to the young adult section aimed at older teens.
This week of events is allowing some recently renovated library branches to showcase their new features, including a teaching kitchen at the Roosevelt Thompson branch, which will host a cooking demonstration from a dish in the book “Like Water For Chocolate.”
All events for Banned Books Week are free, but space is limited for some, including the cooking demonstration, which already has a wait list. Details on the events can be found here.
Coordinator Mooy said, “We want people to pick up a banned book and dare to read it. We want people to be more informed and to know their rights, and to encourage the widespread reading of any book that somebody would like to read.”