OWHL Commemorates Banned Book Week

We all remember skimming through those first few pages of Harry Potter, while secretly wishing we could play Quidditch or turn our math teacher into a rat. Potter readers even fill their heads with dreams about attending Charms class or trying a Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Bean. Surprisingly, these ideas crafted by J. K. Rowling have had a hard time reaching millions of children worldwide. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and its succeeding series, which have been banned by many organizations across the world, was named the most challenged book in 1999 according to the American Library Association. Who ever thought that a touch of magic and a swish of a broom could threaten adults enough to ban it from libraries? While a majority of the country was busy banning Harry Potter and other titles including, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, “Atlas Shrugged”, and “The Chocolate War,” Librarian Timothy Sprattler, was active in promoting these books. Since 1982, Banned Books Week has been observed at the end of September each year. Several years ago, Mr. Sprattler brought this program to the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library to, “help people understand different scopes of books that are banned.” He added that many libraries across the nation support the first amendment and that he wished Andover would uphold that same reputation. There are many different reasons why books have been banned by organizations. In the case of Harry Potter, a number of Christian church groups wanted to ban the book because they believed that the fictional character promoted “witchcraft items” and that as true Christians, “[they] will not call evil good.” Luckily Mr. Sprattler said that, “this school has never banned a book. We instead select the books we like to showcase in our library.” Banned Books Week has reached its fifth year of operation here at PA, and Mr. Sprattler, the key coordinator, has included additional events to the week. “We sometimes get authors to participate in a program called, “Writers in Residence”, and have them come and speak at Phillips Academy,” he said. “John Gould will be coming to speak, and he’ll be reading ‘The Sound and the Fury;’” “He’ll be doing it in William Faulkner’s voice,” Mr. Spratler added. Although this will be Andover’s fifth year of operating the program, Mr. Sprattler said that it has not caught on well with other nearby schools. He added that some faculty and students have not noticed the significance of the week. “Students are just too busy,” he said. It is true that the pace of life at PA is rather hectic at times, but censorship is still a key issue that is held very close to the hearts of many students and faculty members. “[The freedom to read] is a basic human right. It is really food for growth and is a strong symbol of freedom,” said Instructor in Japanese Teruyo Shimazu. Laura Benca ’05 held a similar belief. “It’s about having unlimited books to read. The government has no control over it [the books to read], although it is still a very controversial issue,” she said. This week, from September 27 to October 3, the library will be hosting reading sessions in the Freeman Room with several invited authors. This week’s collection will hold a number of books that have been banned in the past, including the ever popular Dr. Seuss books and even several of Judy Bloom’s timeless stories.