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Diverse books part of read-out [1 October, 2008]

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The American Library Association (ALA) marked its 27th Annual Banned Books Week.  Among the events was a read-out during which authors and Chicago Tribune columnists like Dawn Turner Trice read selections from their favorite banned or challenged books.

Approximately 400 people made their way in and out of a series of readings, musical performances and book signings by writers like Judy Blume, Achy Obejas and Sara Paretsky.  The event took place September 27 at the Pioneer Plaza next to the McCormick Freedom Museum, 435 N.  Michigan.

Several of the featured authors are well known for their children’s books or young adult material.  Phyllis Reynolds Taylor, author of the Alice series and The Witch Saga has long been familiar with censorship.  Speaking to Windy City Times, she emphasized the importance of parents communicating with their children as opposed to forbidding them to read anything uncomfortable: “I’d much rather have my child read something that I don’t agree with and be able to talk with them about it than have them sneak off and read it.”

Judy Blume read from the first chapter of Blubber, a story about bullying among children and one of her most popular works.  According to Blume, the book has been controversial because of “its lack of moral tone, whatever that is, and for undermining authority.”  Blume reminded the audience that Banned Books Week was “a celebration of speaking out.”

Also present were Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, co-authors of And Tango Makes Three, a short illustrated children’s book about two male penguins who hatched and raised a penguin chick at the Central Park Zoo.  The book, which they read, topped the list of the ALA’s most challenged books in 2006 and 2007.

Originally published in Windy City Times, 1 October, 2008

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