Party for the Right to Read
The ACLU wants Banned Books Week to be a wake-up call
Banned Books Week began in 1982 as part of the ALA's struggle to bring censorship within schools and libraries out in the open. Now, former Chronicle staffer Lauri Apple, currently the director of the ACLU of Texas' Banned Books Project, hopes to further expand awareness of BBW and censorship here in Austin beyond the circles of educators, library patrons, and parents. "I want the older progressive people you usually find at ACLU gatherings, and the younger crowd that you usually don't, to meet," she says. "They share an ideology and need to connect so they can keep track of what's going on in their communities."
So Apple decided to throw a party a bunch of them, in fact. During Banned Books Week, independent bookstores around town are coming alive, hosting "Read-a-Thons" where local authors, lawyers, scholars, and activists read excerpts from texts that have been challenged or banned in Texas' schools. Apple has also organized an "Artists Interruptus" anti-censorship art show at the Old School, featuring art that has been banned from public venues. For Apple, the expansion was a natural one. "A lot of the books that have been challenged [in schools] are targeted due to an illustration or image in the book, and not because of the story itself," she explains.
Apple says Banned Books Week needs to serve as an alarm awakening people to the realities of censorship "It is important for people to realize that this is a local issue, no matter where they live." The ACLU of Texas' annual report listing books banned or challenged by Texas school districts will be released Sept. 27.