Banned Books Week kicks off Saturday with a performance of Fahrenheit 451 presented by Jacksonville Public Libraries and The 5 & Dime, A Theatre Company.
Adapted for the stage by Ray Bradbury from his classic novel of the same name, Fahrenheit 451 integrates multimedia with traditional stage techniques.
The 5 & Dime describes itself as “Jacksonville’s newest theatre company” with the slogan, “Making change in Jacksonville.” Fahrenheit 451 is their inaugural performance.
The performance is September 24 at the Main Library, Hicks Auditorium, 303 Laura Street North 32202. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. and curtain is at 2 p.m. It is FREE and open to the public.
A coffee and dessert reception will precede the event from 1:30-2 p.m. and the performance will be followed by a panel discussion (see participants below).
The American Library Association describes Banned Books Week as a “national celebration of the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.” During the last week of September every year, hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events.
It began in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Since then, more than 11,000 books have been “challenged.”
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A ban is the actual removal of those materials.
According to the ALA, there were 348 challenges reported in 2010. This number has dropped from 513 in 2008 and is much lower than the high of 762, which came in 1995. The drop and generally low numbers has evoked some to call Banned Books Week an “exercise in propaganda.”
Books are most frequently challenged for being too sexually explicit, containing offensive language or violence, or being unsuited to the specified age group.
The 10 most challenged titles of 2010 were:
- And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: offensive language, racism, religious viewpoint, sex education, sexually explicit, violence, unsuited to age group
- Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit
- Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
Reasons: drugs, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit
- The Hunger Games (series), by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: sexaully explicit, violence, unsuited to age group
- Lush, by Natasha Friend
Reasons: drugs, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group
- What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich
Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint
- Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
Reasons: homosexuality, sexually explicit
- Twilight (series), by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence, unsuited to age group
This year’s Banned Books Week is September 24-October 1 and is sponsored by:
- American Booksellers Association
- American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
- American Library Association
- American Society of Journalists and Authors
- Association of American Publishers
- National Association of College Stores
- Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
- National Coalition Against Censorship
- National Council of Teachers of English
- PEN American Center
- It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
The panel discussion following the Fahrenheit 451 performance will be moderated by Jackie Jones, creative writing chair at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and coordinator of the First Coast Writers’ Festival, and will feature:
- Santino J. Rivera, indie publisher/author
- Sandi Dunnavant, former president of the Florida Association of Media in Education
- Caryl Butterley, director
- Larry Knight and Steven Anderson Jr., cast members
To get yourself started on the discussion, go here to see Ray Bradbury talk about how Fahrenheit 451 is not about censorship.