The stage sits quietly as students and faculty find a seat to watch the performance on Thursday, Dec. 1. The students from Professor Jayne Decker’s class each sat on a block and took turns performing. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — On Thursday, Dec. 1, University of Maine Farmington honor students held a performance at the Emery Community Arts Center titled “Banned Books – a Performative Work”. The performance featured excerpts from books banned for several different reasons.

Books that were featured in the performance included Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury [banned for being vulgar, having graphic content and the discussion of drugs], Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White [banned for having themes of death and the presence of talking animals], and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak [banned for being psychologically damaging and traumatizing to children].

“All words are important and valuable. Every word written helps to tell a story,” students of Professor Jayne Decker stated.

In the 2021-2022 school year, it was reported that more than 2,500 books had been banned across 138 districts in 32 states. Based on the assessment of the American Library Association, 2022 is on track to exceed those numbers.

The banning of books in the U.S. goes as far back as 1637, with Thomas Morton’s New English Canaan being the first book banned in the country.

Among the most banned books in the U.S. are 1984 by George Orwell, The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.


Gender Queer: A Memoir, by Maia Kobabe, is among the most recent in the discussion of banned books and is currently the number one most banned book in the country. It was also recently the topic of discussion among Regional School Unit 73 Board of Directors, with the board voting to keep the book in their school

The performance was the result of the culminative effort of the students of UMF Honors 277A and was also their final project of the course.

Decker shared a line from her course syllabus that she believes encapsulates the project.

“We read aloud.  We may use words that hurt our mouths. We may not all agree on what makes us uncomfortable. We ask our audience to begin from a place of compassion, in this room and beyond the door.”

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