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Julee Johnson


by 30 supporters

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It's the 10th anniversary of the READATHON and my 8th time reading. I'm honored to participate, to support the library, and read out loud from a book whose subject is both timely and timeless. 

My theme this year is banned books. It's hard to find one volume to represent all the books that have ever been banned or challenged but I've been feeling Orwellian so my 2022 selection is George Orwell's 1945 novel Animal Farm


I remember reading this book in high school and understanding, even at 13, that it was a satirical commentary on Soviet totalitarianism. Because it was required reading in my freshman English class in 1973, I didn't know that it was one of the most banned books in the U.S. and around the world. It's been objected to by the John Birch Society for including the phrase "the masses will revolt" (1963); identified as a "problem book" in New York State because "Orwell was a communist" (1968); suppressed from being displayed at the Moscow International Book Fair (1977); objected to in DeKalb County, GA for its "political theories" (1979-1982); banned from schools in Panama City, FL but reinstated after parents took the school district to court (1987); and the illustrated re-issued edition was banned from schools in the United Arab Emirates because it "contradicts Islamic and Arab values", including "pictures of alcoholic drinks, pigs, and other indecent images" (2002). 

Whether it's political leanings, blasphemy, vulgarity, or sex drugs and rock 'n roll, the American Library Association's list of banned and challenged books is embarrassingly long. Check it out at 

I'm not sure if I'll start at the beginning of Animal Farm, when the pigs of Manor Farm are describing a utopia where animals own the land, no longer the slaves of humans like Farmer Jones. Or their revolt and battle against humankind: Four legs good, two legs bad. Or how success breeds power and power corrupts:  All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.  I have less than 30 minutes for my slot during the READATHON  but I'll try to get to something suitably subversive that speaks to our time.  

I hope you'll join me in supporting our public library, that bastion of literacy and champion against censorship.  Thank you!


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The READATHON is our annual read-out-loud challenge to raise funds for the collection at TCPL!
Help us make our 10th READATHON our best ever! 

Every dollar raised helps to buy books and other materials our community so desperately needs. Nearly a million items are used each year—a remarkably high level for a community of our size—and 100% of the funding for annual purchases comes from private support, like that raised by our READATHON participants. Money raised by the Readathon goes toward purchasing books, films, and other materials patrons depend on to remain informed, entertained, and educated.



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Tompkins County Public Library Foundation

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EIN 16-1422052