Belk Library to host banned books discussion, read-in on Oct. 4 and 5

The event highlights literature on subjects that have been deemed sensitive by some K-12 parents throughout the country.

Banned Books Discussion & Read-in flyerCarol Grotnes Belk Library, the Department of Human Service Studies and Poverty and Social Justice Studies will host the first annual Banned Book Discussion and Read-in event on Oct. 4 and 5 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Koenigsberger Learning Center room 127.

The event aligns with national Banned Books Week and will include interactive readings and discussions about banned books. Banned books will be highlighted with passages shared by faculty and staff. Students are encouraged to choose their favorite examples and read passages.

The banned books event at Belk Library is an opportunity for the Elon community to read, discuss and share their experiences on vulnerable topics. Literature ranging from subjects like mental health to LGBTQ youth have been a controversial topic this summer as thousands of K-12 parents across the country have deemed these conversations as inappropriate for children.

“Well, what happens to the students who haven’t encountered this material before they come to us? Are they going to have the foundation?” Vanessa Drew-Branch, associate professor of human services, questioned. “Human content and the human experience are super important to us.”

With this in mind, Drew-Branch and other colleagues decided to brainstorm books that have been pivotal in the real-life human experience and contacted Elon’s librarians to make the event possible.

“We saw this as a perfect opportunity when Dr. Drew-Branch brought this idea to us,” said Carlos Grooms, student success librarian with Belk Library. “This is a perfect opportunity for Elon faculty, staff and students to come share their ideas and experiences with these banned books.”

All members of the Elon community are welcome. Readers will come to the Belk Library, sit, read, and share their thoughts on their chosen banned books. The procedures of the event will model the African American book reading event held by Grooms during Black History Month this year.

The event emphasizes the impact that literature has to shape who we are today and helps us find personal and relatable stories within a text.

“I don’t know if I would’ve been the scholar or the human being that I am without reading ‘The Bluest Eyes’ by Toni Morrison or being exposed to her work,” Drew-Branch said. “My scholarship is around the Black feminist movement, so I don’t know if I would be who I am without those works. I just can’t imagine students and people not having access to that literature in public spaces.”

Elon is just one of many locations celebrating Banned Book Week this year from Oct. 1-7 this year. More information can be found on the Banned Books Week website.