By Emily Leayman
Firefly Bookstore, located at 230 West Main St. is making it a tradition to display some of the most challenged books in its front window during Banned Books Week from Sept. 22 to 28.
This year, for example, the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey, according to the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom is number one of the top 10 challenged books for the last year. The ALA also received 464 reports regarding attempts to limit or remove certain titles from school curriculums or libraries, an increase from 326 in 2011. Matthew Williams, one of the owners of Firefly, said that just “one or two” parents can be enough to ban a book from use in schools.
“When books do get chosen for a curriculum, to have them be pulled […] out of the curriculum […] or library just because of the objections of one or two parents with no oversight, with no public discussion […], it means that decision making is being made behind closed doors,” said Williams.
Williams said he and his co-owner Rebecca Laincz have been working in bookstores for a long time and have always done Banned Books Week.
Although banning books does not occur in Kutztown University or even the Kutztown Public Library, Williams believes students should be aware that it happens. He said that especially students involved in the Library Science Department will be made aware of how books are chosen for library collections.
He said customers have been “fascinated by the different books that have at some point or another been banned or challenged.”
“We love the opportunity to talk to customers about why certain books are challenged or banned. We also talk about the history of book banning.” said Laincz.
Williams also said Banned Books Week also celebrates the freedom to read and sell any book of choice in the United States. Bookstore owners often have to fight for the ability to sell certain books. Firefly has not come across the issue yet, but Williams has positive expectations, since most legal cases end up in favor of books being allowed to be sold.
Williams believes Banned Books Week is held at this time due to the recent start of the school year. The display in the store will be up through the first week of October.
Firefly Bookstore also offers board game nights, every Tuesday from 7 to 10 p.m., where they feature a new game every week or let people play their favorites. They also feature special sales, author events and Star Wars Reads Day, which will be held Oct. 5.