Tuesday, September 10, 2013


ALBANY—The Capital Region Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union will sponsor two “Read Outs” during this year’s national Banned Books Week. The events in Albany and Troy will feature regional notables—actors, writers, politicians, poets, and activists of all types—reading from books that have been banned or challenged in the United States.

The first Read-Out will be held on Tuesday, September 24 at 6 pm at the University Club, 141 Washington Avenue, Albany. The second event will take place as part of Troy Night Out on Friday, September 27 at 6 pm at Market Block Books, 290 River Street, Troy.

Both events are free and open to the public.

Melanie Trimble, NYCLU Chapter Director, said, “Our Constitution gives us the right to read what we want, and the best way to preserve that freedom is to exercise it. At a time when pervasive governmental spying on citizens is in the news daily, it is crucial that people come out to demonstrate their passionate commitment to constitutional freedoms.”

Every year there are hundreds of attempts to suppress books in our schools and libraries. During the first decade of our current century, the Office of Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association (ALA) recorded 5,099 challenges to books nationwide. And, since most banning attempts do not get widely reported, the organization estimates that the real number of attempted suppressions is at least four to five times higher.

Heading the most recent list of the country’s most frequently challenged books is Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series. Runner up is Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Many of America’s greatest novels have been the most consistently challenged works, among them: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple, Ulysses, Invisible Man, The Call of the Wild, Native Son, Rabbit, Run and An American Tragedy.

Many attempts to ban reading material are not necessarily mounted in the parts of the country where one might predict them to be. Substantial clusters of challenges can be found on both the East and West Coasts. One recent ALA survey, for example, counted five incidents each in Connecticut and Pennsylvania but only one each in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama. Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts recorded four challenges each. Nevada and Utah had none. Oregon had eight. The most active states were California, New York, Texas, Wisconsin and Florida which all recorded between 10 and 13 challenges apiece

National sponsors of Banned Books Week are the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of College Stores, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Coalition against Censorship, National Council of Teachers for English, PEN American Center, Project Censored.

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