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October 26, 2012

Banned books get airing at Read-Out

PLATTSBURGH — Parents wanted “Winnie-the-Pooh” banned in a Kansas school district, saying talking animals are an insult to God.

Passages from the much loved children’s classic about the adorable bear were read out loud during the recent Banned Book Read-Out at SUNY Plattsburgh’s Feinberg Library, among others that have been described as controversial, sexually explicit and vulgar.

Students, faculty and the SUNY Plattsburgh President John Ettling volunteered as readers for the event, planned by Cerise Oberman, a distinguished librarian at the campus library, and Associate Librarian Elin O’Hara-Gony in support of the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week. 

Participants chose their books from a list of the Library Association’s frequently challenged and banned works. Many titles were of personal significance to the readers, who offered their insights after reading passages from them.

RACIAL INEQUALITY

David Stone, an associate professor at the college, read from “Native Son.” He said he had found the book when he was in high school and that Bigger, the main character, spoke to him in a way that other adolescent protagonists did not.

He was able to identify with “Native Son” because it portrayed the life of a black family living in South Chicago, and author Richard Wright was not afraid to challenge readers with its show of racial inequality.

“I related a lot more to being black and being poor and to some extent being trapped,” he said.

Inequality was a concurrent theme in several of the books chosen for the reading. In Ian Foster’s “A Passage To India,” there are scenes depicting the segregation in British-ruled India that Priyanka Chakraborty found interesting.

Chakraborty, an assistant professor who is originally from India, said the Read-Out was valuable for promoting awareness of these books and the reasons they were banned.

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