On September 29, Olivet’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter held their annual Banned Books event in the Benner Library fishbowl, to recognize any books that have been banned from a public place, like a school or library. Every year, communities around the country throw events like this to celebrate Banned Books Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness for banned books.
Co-president of Sigma Tau Delta, Lauren Mohler, said that Banned Books Week allows people all over the country to “challenge the stereotypes of banned books and show that there is value in tough conversations.”
“Banned books are usually banned because someone thinks that they present information that may not be the best for a particular group of people. That is exactly what makes me think that we should read them. Banned Books Week allows us to bring up these sensitive issues,” Mohler said.
The theme of Sigma Tau Delta’s event this year was “dystopian classics.” Following this theme, signs featuring the classic “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” propaganda from George Orwell’s novel, 1984, were displayed around the fishbowl. Posters with Panem (The Hunger Games) Districts 1 through 12 were spread across the walls.
Sigma Tau Delta co-president, Hope Morris, said that the event saw the most traffic during the chapel hour. The attendees played banned books trivia, took a BuzzFeed quiz to determine their Hunger Games District, and listened to music from the movie soundtracks. There were also coloring pages, word searches, and even a photo booth and food—things like “Peeta” chips for a good laugh.
“Banned books are important because it shows a lot of society’s fears,” Morris said. “These books can be very telling of the truth of the times through the content itself and the fact that it was banned.” Morris emphasized the fact that many of these banned classics are still being banned or challenged today.
It is fairly common for a popular book to be a banned book, escaping public notice. For example, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald have all been banned, along with many more.
One such banned title that is dear to the heart of Dr. Rebecca Belcher-Rankin of the English Department is Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. This title is commonly taught in high school and university classes, and she feels that it presents an important opportunity for educators to talk about stereotyping, offensive language, and “the heart of mankind when doing the right thing.” Dr. Belcher-Rankin believes that we all need reminders of things that have happened; banned books offer a way to receive those reminders.