A group of Ivy Tech students and faculty Thursday celebrated the birthday of a famous author with an act of defiance. The group flaunted its First Amendment rights by reading banned books from Doctor Seuss and others.
Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the Catcher in the Rye are found in many libraries, but not all. The books read Thursday at Bloomington’s Ivy Tech campus are all on the American Library Association’s list of banned or challenged books. Student Matthew Levandoski chose Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle for his reading.
“And it just happens to involve certain topics or themes or words that really some people have a problem with,” Levandoski says. “That’s what freedom of speech is for. So I think the idea behind freedom of expression there’s really no argument involved. It’s like, you either have it or you don’t.”
The event is specifically held in early March, around the birthday of Theodor Geisel, many of whose books make the list. Organizer Elizabeth Starr says the books often challenge convention, much like Thursday’s demonstration.
“The fact that some of his books have been banned and challenged is just an interesting sidelight,” Starr says. “Maybe because he really takes the side of children and he does bring up issues that, you know, show children that are maybe being, there might be a little anti-authoritarianism in there sometimes.”
Like Dr. Seuss’ Grinch Who Stole Christmas, event organizers believe the list’s creators sometimes have hearts two sizes too small. But the event is also a reminder of the lesson learned in Green Eggs and Ham: you don’t know if you’ll like something until you try it.