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Westerly Sun Column

Banned Books Week & Edible Books

September is rapidly coming to a close, and while I’m a bit shocked at how fast the year is going by, I can’t say I’m upset about it. The end of the September means great things: Fall is upon us, pumpkin-spice is making its way into our beer and coffee (I’m one of those people), and, most importantly, Banned Books week is back again!

Banned Books Week, which is held from September 23rd-29th, is an annual event and awareness campaign that celebrates our freedom to read. Although book-burnings are (mostly) a thing of the past, efforts are still made to censor and even remove materials from bookshelves, library collections, school reading lists and more. Often, the materials being challenged include controversial topics: books that showcase queer characters, or that discuss suicide, sexual violence, and other “taboo” subjects are typically targets. It is worth noting that many of the frequently banned/challenged books are now considered classics: To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Color Purple are great examples. While “controversial” subjects can be uncomfortable, they are also important. Banned Books Week draws attention to the harms of such censoring these materials, and urges everyone – readers, writers, booksellers, and more – to speak out for their freedom to read!

Of course, the Westerly Library will be taking part in the celebration. If you’ve visited the library, you’ve probably noticed the wonderful (and frequently changing) book displays on the first and second floors. Word has it that some “Banned Books” themed displays are on their way, so make sure to swing by the library and check them out! In addition to these artistic and informative displays, we will be celebrating the week by holding an “Edible Books” event on Saturday, September 29th.

What’s an Edible Book? I’m glad you asked! Libraries around the country hold Edible Book Fests, where participants create representations of books using edible materials. The word “representations” is loose – this could be a cake replica of a book cover, a delectable diorama of a classic book scene, or a pun on a book’s title (some of my favorites are Lord of the Fries and War and Peas). With a little creativity, and a well-stocked pantry, the possibilities are endless. In addition to showing off your creation during a public viewing/judging, you can win prizes - not to mention bragging rights - for the Most Attractive or the “Punniest” entry!

There is one caveat for this Edible Books Fest: all entries MUST be based on a book that has been banned or challenged. You can find lists of frequently and recently banned books on our website at www.westerlylibrary.org/calendar, and we also have copies at the Reference Desk. You can register for the event (on your own, or as a team!) by contacting Reference at reference@westerlylibrary.org, or (401) 596-2877 x308.

We hope you will find a way to celebrate Banned Books Week, whether it is with us at the library, or reading a great book at home!

By Cassie Skobrak, Reference Librarian