Susky Finds Appreciation for Literature during Banned Book Week

By Mia Kobylski, Editor-in-Chief

Caution tape and big, red warning signs greet students outside the library this week, as banned books line the shelves of Susquehannock.

Banned Book Week runs during the last week of September as an “annual celebration of the freedom to read.”

Banned Book Week is a time for publishers, educators and readers to call attention to the power of an expressive text.

According to the official Banned Book Week website, the focus of this year’s event is to call out censorship in literature.

Books featuring LGBT characters, teen suicide, explicit language, communism and suggestions of sex have been banned across public libraries and school districts.

Senior Megan Watkins is no stranger to censorship in publications, but believes cutting-edge topics have the ability to positively impact readers.

“Literature is such an influential part of society that people don’t want certain ideas being spread through such an influential means,” said Watkins. “I think that if people read books that have been previously banned, then they can learn about how certain topics were viewed during the time period and gain a greater understanding of the past and how literature has been viewed throughout time.”

Senior Megan Watkins, an avid reader and lover of literature, sees the power in learning from banned books. Photo by Mia Kobylski.

The list goes on about topics that are seen as unfit for young readers; however, presently, the list has been getting shorter.  

Efforts like Banned Book Week have helped combat the longstanding tradition of censorship in literature and media.

In more recent history, lines have been blurred regarding sexuality, racism and gender roles, which is reflected in some topics being more widely received in public settings.

English Teacher Katharine Wilt thinks that conversations need to be had about real-life subjects, and the classroom is an environment to do so safely.

“What I like to do is I like to make sure that those are conversations we have before we even start, either the whole book or that section of the story. Kinda give a heads up, talk about why it’s used, give them a little context, because I think it’s important to be able to talk about controversial topics – taboo topics, in a positive way… I think that there is just more conversation out there in the world because of decisions that are made across the country and probably beyond, where people are recognizing, and talking about, and pushing back against censored books…,” said Wilt. “…It’s just an important skill people need to have in being able to talk to each other and listen to each other about topics that they often times disagree on. So, I think it’s a good life lesson in literature and just humanity as well.”

Watkins reads a book with the label “I contain content you are not mature enough to read.” Photo by Mia Kobylski

Librarian Kayse Corrieri sometimes finds herself shying away from genres that negatively affect her, such as horror, but thinks those books can still be influential to others.

“There are some topics that I can’t handle personally, but I have to really, really remove myself from that because part of my job is to make sure that there’s exposure to everything,” said Corrieri. “If you’re seeking it, then there’s a reason, and you deserve to find answers.”

There are many books on display in the library marked as “banned” that students are encouraged to check out.

“I think most students are pretty surprised when they realize that they’ve already read them. A lot of them are taught in English class,and they’re classics,” said Corrieri. “I find that once they read one, then students will say, ‘I can’t believe that!’ and want to read another one… because the teenage mentality loves taboo.”

A list of banned and challenged books is linked below:

A display of banned books is located inside of the library encouraging students to investigate thought-provoking content. Photo by Mia Kobylski.