Celebrating the right to read

Filmed at The Open Book

What you need to know….

The LC witnessed a peculiar event two weeks ago. Having been alerted as to some scandalous goings on in a small Westhampton bookstore, we headed out to discover for ourselves what all the fuss was about. And what did we find? I’ll tell you, but brace yourself — it was astonishing! Apparently, some members of that quaint Long Island community — even its youth! — were caught, unabashedly, not only reading, but also defending their right to do so. Now, now, withhold your disgust until all is told. Can this be true, we wondered? Are there still people out there — of any age — who still read…books? Boy, do they ever! Seriously…we have it on tape!

Okay, here’s some back story: trouble has most definitely been brewing in the public school system in the Westhampton area, with concerned parents taking it upon themselves to push for a ban of certain questionable texts from the school’s reading list. But the book lovers are passionately voicing their objections, and the LC was there on this particular night to offer its support of this bold move to keep literary freedom alive in their community! It was awesome and inspiring. The good people at The Open Book, the bookstore that proudly hosted this event, encouraged numerous volunteers — men, women, and children alike — authors, students, free thinkers, any thinkers, to gather round and read from classic, now beloved books that have at one time been challenged to keep their unconventional material out of the hands of impressionable readers. Passages were read; food was eaten; posters were made; a good time was had by all! Three cheers for literacy!!!

In the end one ought really to thank these parents for attempting to impose their own opinions on the matter. Though their concerns were valid, talk of banning books inspired local readers to reach out and share their passion for great literature by inviting interested listeners to sit down and hear what wonderment lies within the covers of some of the greatest books ever written. Had there been no debate, young students might never have known what it feels like to defend something as treasured as Oscar Wilde’s fantastical poetry; they might never have felt compelled to whole heartedly defend the powerful passages found in J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”; I might never have learned that Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, a collection of comical poems I grew up with, was actually challenged! We are all more enlightened now, and more appreciative of our right to read these works and share them with the world. Kudos to all the staff members at The Open Book, and to the many volunteer readers.

ALA list of banned novels.