Each year, students, librarians, First Amendment advocates and book lovers celebrate Banned Books Week. The awareness week is a reminder that vigilance against censorship and challenges to works of literature, theater and art is essential to maintaining a free society in Wisconsin and across our country.

To celebrate Banned Books Week, the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation and Woodland Pattern Book Center will sponsor a free night of reading banned or challenged books on Thursday, October 4, 2012 where members of the community have been invited to read a favorite selection. Attendees are encouraged to come in costume as their favorite literary character or favorite challenged author, with prizes for the two best costumes in each category.

Readers will include:  

Mandela Barnes, community organizer and recently elected Wisconsin State Assembly Representative, 

Josie Osborne, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Art and Design Professor,  

Melissa Bollow Tempel, Rethinking Schools which produced Rethinking Columbus, a book banned in Tucson, AZ

Laree Pourier, youth activist and artist, and 

Brian Faracy, producer of the recently challenged play, The Complete Word of God (Abridged).

This year’s event will highlight books by recently deceased authors Maurice Sendak and Ray Bradbury.  Both “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak and “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury have a long history of being on the most frequently challenged book list issued by the American Library Association.

The event will also highlight the January 2012 court decision in Tucson, Arizona where a judge upheld the Tucson Unified School District’s decision to ban the Mexican American Studies program. School officials visited middle schools and high schools and physically removed several books from the students, their classrooms, and the libraries. There are over 50 books that are no longer allowed in Tucson schools, including one produced in Milwaukee, “Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years,” edited by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson. Rethinking Schools will be participating in the event, sharing their censorship experience, and what it means to be on the list.

The hosted reception begins at 6:00 p.m. at Woodland Pattern Book Center located at 720 E. Locust, Milwaukee, WI 53212. The program begins at 7:00 p.m. The event is also sponsored by Wisconsin Center for the Book, Art Night Books, and Lost World of Wonders with food and drinks donated by Angie Trudell Vasquez, Devin Trudell and the Riverwest Co-op.

After the program, participants are invited to the Riverwest Public House, located at 815 E Locust St, to enjoy a drink celebrating banned books.

To be co-sponsor: contact Angie Trudell Vasquez at liberty@aclu-wi.org  or at 414-272-4032 ext 211.

Continue the conversation online: Join the “I Read Banned Books – Wisconsin” Facebook group for the latest information about book challenges and anti-censorship work in our state.