By ZARA AHMAD
“One day I happened to be reading Harry Potter. This girl looked at me and said, ‘You are going to hell. My mother told me I’m not allowed to read those books because the devil worshippers read them.’”
That was the moment when UAlbany librarian Amanda Lowe first started feeling passionate about censorship and banned books.
“That was very disturbing to me, and it’s why I am so adamant about speaking on censorship.”
Inspired by this, Lowe hosted a discussion at the UAlbany Library which included readings from a variety of books that have been banned in their day: Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, and Catch 22 were among the honored books.
Lowe, the host of the event, has been fighting the good-book-fight since she was young.
“In the sixth grade, I read a book called When Dad Killed Mom,” Lowe says. “Of course, I had to share it with all my peers. The school tried to ban it, but I went to the Board of Education with my mom and told them they could not do that,” says Lowe.
Throughout history, books were banned for different reasons. The main argument against Harry Potter is that magic conflicts with Christian values, though Harry Potter also has strong themes of love, loyalty, and friendship. For some of the other books, like To Kill A Mockingbird, the argument is profane language, as the book includes racial slurs.
But Lowe thinks it’s important that all books be available to all people, so that we can continue to learn about different walks of life and different historical periods.
“It’s okay to have different opinions and beliefs, but what is not okay is telling people what they can or cannot read,” Lowe says. “We need to stand up for everybody’s right to read, whether you like the book or not.”
For information about the library’s next open read, you can go to https://future.library.albany.edu/.