Taboo literature scattered around MCC Red Mountain campus for a week

Miguel Ayala shows off his selection of banned books to be hidden around MCC Red Mountain campus. Photo Courtesy of Kylee GillesPie

Books in a school’s curriculum are being challenged by student’s, parent’s or school faculty in an effort to get them banned or restricted.

Each year, the American Library Association (ALA) sends out a new list of books that have been banned or restricted.

According to ALA’s website, selection criteria includes: objectivity, clarity, representation of diverse viewpoints, relevance, use of information, authenticity of history or social setting.

Many ALA list books are highly revered, won awards like the Caldicott and Pulitzer-prize and were once a favored in a school’s curriculum.

Elizabeth Simpson, an English teacher at Mesa Community College (MCC) Red Mountain campus uses  a scavenger hunt to bring awareness of these books in a way students enjoy.

“I saw several years ago an article about a scavenger hunt. I think it was in New York City, and I thought it was such a clever idea that we decided we would try and do it here,” said Simpson.

Simpson’s students in ENH-295 will determine key adjectives describing why the book was banned. The students then wrap the book in blue paper and write the adjective on it.

This keeps the book anonymous, while intriguing those who pass to open the wrapped books. Adjective words include infidelity, incest, or profanity.

Those who find these books are able to go into the student life building and trade for another banned book or get free MCC merchandise.

Marie Brown, librarian and assistant chair at MCC Red Mountain, helps operate the event by finding donated books, extra available books, or purchase inexpensive used books.

“This year I really wanted to focus on classics because so often students will come to my office and say I don’t get it… students will talk with each other and ask why would this be the adjective on this particular book,” said Brown.

The banned book scavenger hunt is in the fourth year at MCC Red Mountain.

The event serves multiple purposes, such as, helping bring awareness to issues and getting students to discuss why these books are being banned.

The scavenger hunt helps promote the class Simpson teaches on banned books offered at MCC.

Lastly, it gets students familiar with Student Life. They can go there and see all Student Life has to offer.

According to Brown and Simpson, it is a big success every year. Brown and Simpson are already preparing for the next hunt, by gathering books and preparing them.

If you would like to know more, you can sign up for the ENH-295 class on banned books or join the book club as their planned read is Fahrenheit 451.

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