“Embracing the Other Within Through Children’s Banned Books,” was one of the sessions at the V Coloquio “Del otro La’o” on Thursday, March 6, 2014. The activity took place in Celis 008, at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (UPRM).
The workshop’s objective was to evaluate banned books for children that had something to do with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Intersexual and Queer (LGBTIQ) issues and with other gender topics such as women’s role in the society.
About 28 people attended the event, wich was coordinated by four teachers from different schools in Puerto Rico and New York. Among the people that assisted were undergraduate and graduate students of the UPRM.
Durigthe three hours of the session the teachers made the public participate in an activity with these banned books. This consisted in reading a book and analyzing it, then constructing a collage with magazines’ pictures and other materials. Attendees were divided into five groups, and each group worked with a different banned book.
Workshop participants Rocio Colón, 20, a civil engineering student at UPRM, analysed the book Prince Cinder. She prepared the collage about this book and then present it to the rest of the participants and told them why she thought these books were banned in the first place.
The story presented was about a young skinny man that wants to be like his brothers; big, strong and hairy. In front of him appeared a fairy that made his wish come true, but not as he imagined, as she turned him into a gorilla. He didn’t notice and attended to a party, but the guards didn’t let him. When he left, he stumbled upon a princess that was scared of him, but when he was about to leave, the clock struck 12:00 a.m. and he turned back to his true self. The princess thought that he had scared away the gorilla and fell in love with him.
The group thought the reason why this book was banned was because of the position of the man in the story and the issue of masculinity in society.
Colón appreciated the knowledge and empathy exchanged in the session, “This university has been compromising with the “queer” issues and is working together to make people accept and understand members of the queer community,” said Colón in reference to the activities she saw in the V Coloquio this year.