The Canturbury Tales, Candide, the Holy Qur’an, The Evolution of Man, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: all these titles are on the list of books banned at a Catholic high school somewhere in the U.S. But that also means you can find them among the texts of Kat Atreides’ covert lending library, which she runs out of her locker and an empty one adjacent.
According to her post, “Is it OK to run an illegal library from my locker at school?” on Yahoo! Answers*, the possibly pseudonymous Kat was dismayed to see a number of classic books and personal favorites on a new list of books banned by the administration. When a friend asked to borrow Catcher in the Rye, she was inspired to bring in more from home. With a current total of 62 books, the library has become wildly popular, Kat says. Other titles include Slaughterhouse-5, Animal Farm, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Twilight is banned, but she declines to include it in her library based on standards of literary merit.
Way to go, Kat, for turning the administration’s censorship attempts into an incentive for students to become voracious readers. How better to get young people interested in books than to make their trade into a shady business?
But Kat’s in a tough position: she says she would be in trouble with the teachers and her parents if they found out about her operation. One commenter on her post, an author, suggests starting a petition to reinstate the banned books. That would be a brave move, and she might have to suffer some consequences.
Even if her library remains undercover, Kat is fighting her school’s censorship in a big way. Just one suggestion: she says she’s currently only lending to sophomores, juniors and seniors, “just in case so you can’t say I’m exposing young people to materiel they’re not mature enough for.” Hey, it’s a secret library anyway–why not let the freshmen decide for themselves which banned books to read?
*described and discussed in this post on BoingBoing