GET LOUD: A Celebration of Banned Books

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — On Sunday, Oct. 1, the Williamstown League of Women Voters in collaboration with the David and Joyce Milne Public Library and the Friends of the Milne Library are presenting Get Loud: A Celebration of Banned Books.
A group of nine authors, performers, teachers, and local individuals will read aloud selections from books currently or previously banned in US libraries and schools. Introducing them will be authors Karen Shepard and Jim Shepard, both on the English faculty of Williams College.
This performance was initiated by the Williamstown League of Women Voters with the goal of bringing together organizations and individuals with a strong interest in the importance of free speech and artistic freedom. 
The event is intended to raise awareness of the history and practice of government censorship, and to give the community an opportunity to experience firsthand the power and joy of good writing.
"One of our goals is to dramatize the importance of the books that have come under attack historically and also recently in some schools and public libraries," said League representative Jane Nicholls. "We hope bringing together an impressive group of artists will help remind us all that the freedom to write and to read is crucial to all other freedoms."
Participants selected their readings from a list supplied by Milne Library Director Pat MacLeod, which cataloged books being  banned from some school libraries and reading lists. The selections include passages from "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison, "Bridge to Terabitha" by Katherine Paterson, "Ceremony" by Leslie Marmon Silko, "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker, and "Dear Martin" by Nic Stone.
Mt. Greylock Regional High School teacher Rebecca Tucker-Smith will read from "The Color Purple," and also recite excerpts from her students’ responses to the book.
"As a high school teacher, I'm excited to participate in this event because I believe that restricting the free exchange of ideas and stories undermines the primary purpose of education, which is to teach students how to think for themselves," Tucker-Smith explained. "In addition, most of the books being banned right now are those that provide comfort and connection to people who are already vulnerable and don't have nearly enough opportunities to see their experiences mirrored in a wide array of stories."
When asked why she agreed to participate, National Book Award Winner Susan Choi responded, "because book bans aren't just idiotic, ignorant, and inane, they're also harmful and hateful!" 
The complete list of readers includes authors Susan Choi, Manuel Gonzales, and Peggy Kern; actress Jessica Hecht; poet Rowan Ricardo Phillips; educators Jamal Ahamad, Tamanika Terry Smith, and Rebecca Tucker-Smith; and High School Senior Mira Boyer. 
The event is free. Donations to PEN New England will be accepted at the door.

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Pine Cobble School Play to Support New Animal Shelter

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Pine Cobble School students will perform the play Charlotte's Web this December and they will donate a share of proceeds to No Paws Left Behind, Inc., a nonprofit organization that aims to open an animal shelter in the Northern Berkshires in early 2024. 
"The play's dual themes of compassion and caring for animals humanely really resonated with the kids," said play director Cynthia Quinones. 
Pine Cobble School is an independent day school for children from early childhood through eighth grade.
The play will be performed in the Adams Memorial Theater, at the '62 Center for Theatre and Dance at Williams College, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, December 13, and Thursday, December 14. Suggested donations of $10 are payable at the door. 
Bonnie Howland, president of No Paws Left Behind, spoke recently to Pine Cobble students about the nonprofit's vision to carry on the mission of the Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter in Pittsfield, which closed this year. 
The Nov. 27 event was part of an assembly recognizing the school's "character pillar" for December, compassion. Howland was joined by the nonprofit's executive director, Noelle Howland.
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