Banned Books Prison Escape Adventure!

Presented by the Ohio Library Council Intellectual Freedom Committee

*Also available as an Alexa Skill*


You sneak in through a propped-open side door at the Prison for Banned Books. This is the correctional facility where books that other people do not want you to read are sent. You can see signs from where you stand. There is sign that states "Warning: Authorized Personnel Only." Underneath that is directional signage: one side points to the cell block, the other side indicates where to go for facilities. A snoring guard is slumped in a chair. These books must not be causing enough trouble to justify staying awake on the job.


You can continue to the cell block, continue to the facilities, or awaken the guard.


Banned books in this prison spend most of their time within shared cells in the cellblock. The harsh lights, uncomfortable temperatures, and poor air flow within this building can not be good for a book's well-being.


You can choose which cell to visit between One, Two, Three, or Four.


You find inmate number 9780553296983 sitting on a table in the cell. The inmate's jacket states that they are in for sexual explicitness. There is a shovel just outside of the cell door.


That shovel sure was conveniently placed. You can use it to dig your way out of this prison! When you climb out the other side of the hole you find yourself outside of the prison. You resolve to find a shower to clean up all of the dirt all over your body before reading the book.


The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank shows how discrimination and censorship, unchecked, can ruin civilization and destroy millions of lives. And how one girl, while surviving and then dying in the worst of circumstances, continued to believe in the goodness of humankind. The sexual references are really quite minor and unimportant to the book's overarching message.


You find inmate number 9780060935467 laying on one of the beds in the cell. The inmate's jacket lists that they are in for many of profanities, racist language, and discussing sex crimes.


Hmm. Books do not need to sleep. If you tie the bed sheets together to form a rope and then repel down the wall outside the cell then that should work. You grab the book and make your escape.


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a story about standing up against racial injustice. Good is affirmed to be able to withstand evil. The story utilizes the setting of Alabama in the 1930s including words and power structures that were as common back then as they are wrong for all time as demonstrated in the text. A well-crafted classic that rewards multiple readings.


You find inmate number 9781481446952. The inmate's jacket lists offenses such as being anti-family, homosexuality, and offending religious viewpoints. This has to be one of the most non-descript rooms that you have ever been in.


On second examination, you find that there is a ceiling tile slightly out of place. You grab the book and climb up through the opening. You crawl around the ventilation. You crawl some more. And some more. Finally, you see daylight! You made it this far so jumping out to freedom is an easy decision.


Bonds between family members are of vital importance to everyone. And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole is a picture book which focuses on the successful parenting of a child by a previously childless couple. That Silo and Roy are real-life same-sex penguin parents to Tango is besides the points of love and family.


As you walk towards Cell Four, you find a outfit that looks exactly like what the sleeping guard was wearing. This could be useful. You find inmate number 9781451673319 within the cell. The inmate's jacket shows a rap sheet of questionable themes, obscene language, sacrilege, and anti-government agitation.


You decide to change out of whatever you wearing and to adorn the extra guard uniform. Wearing the guard uniform will also allow you to find a bag so that you can put the book in it as well as avoiding having to leave or destroy your old clothing. You walk out of the prison like an employee would.


Fahrenheit 451 is a temperature at which books burn. Ray Bradbury's science fiction parable of the same name is about a dystopia where the American people no longer read. Thus, most feel completely justified in literally burning expression with which they do not agree. The page-turning story makes clear how suppressing access to material by any means is the destruction of culture as well as the abandonment of freedom. This book is an enjoyable read.


Prisons typically have a number of rooms within which specific tasks are completed. Banned books might enjoy opportunities to get out of their cells.


You can investigate the exercise yard, commissary, visitation booth, loading dock, mail room, or cafeteria.


You find inmate number 9780803741072 on the ground near a basketball hoop which is close to a fence. Their jacket lists a number of infractions such as promoting homosexuality, discussing sexual education, offending religious viewpoints.


Not only does there not seem to be anyone looking at you now, but it also appears that no one has thought to repair an opening in the perimeter fence. You slip through with only a few minor scrapes and with the book in tow.


I Am Jazz was written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas. This is a straightforward picture book that delivers a story about acceptance, both of others and one's self, as well as gender identity. Jazz's coping skills after setbacks set a good example for readers. Well worth a read.


You find inmate number 9780439708180 waiting in line to buy stuff at the prison commissary. The inmate's jacket lists infractions as being anti-family, promoting the Occult, and promoting Satanism. There are "will return" and "no prisoners allowed" signs above the counter, but nobody on the other side of the counter.


You see a variety of blank official-looking papers and a pen. Prison staff must run this shop. You reach in and grab paper and pen to write a release order. You leave the release order near the sleeping guard as you walk out carrying the book.


The Harry Potter series written by J.K. Rowling follows the fun and complex adventures of a magician through seven years of his life. A variety of excellent characters as well as varied genre keeps things interesting. The magic that has cast a spell over the many children and adults over the years that enjoy reading the series is good writing.


You find inmate number 9780316013697 laying on a weight bench. You are puzzled about how the book could ever press the amount of weight on the bar. The book jacket is in for offensive language, violence, racism, alcoholism, and sexual explicitness.


Hmm. There is a variety of exercise equipment in this gym. What could you possibly use for escape? Got it. You move a treadmill to block the door. You then grab the book and climb the rope. At the top, you move a ceiling tile and climb into the ventilation. You already see daylight. You and the book make the jump to freedom.


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie is a coming-of-age story about a teenage boy taking the high road while living on Native American reservation and going to school at a neighboring school district. This mixture of text and comics exudes bittersweet humor. If one merely focuses on specific details, then one misses the commentary on community dysfunction.


Inmates are required to wear orange-colored book jackets at this prison. You find inmate 9780590846271 in the middle of the room among many carts containing piles of orange-colored cloth book jackets. The inmate's jacket has a list of offenses including crude language, violence, and partial nudity.


You and the book hop within the cart to hide within the jackets until a driver picks up the cart to take to the cleaners. You wait until you hear the driver stop at a gas station before exiting the cart and then delivery van.


You read through the Captain Underpants series. Silly fun is just as important to have access to as deep literature. You probably would have enjoyed it better if you were an eight year old boy. Nonetheless, Eight year-olds should not have to break into a banned book prison for material that they would be interested in reading.


You find inmate number 9781400033416 among a number of boxes and shipping supplies. Lists of prisoners and employees are nearby. The inmate's jacket lists reasons for being in banned book prison as offensive language, sexual explicitness, violence, and being inappropriate for an age group.


You find a box and some packing peanuts. You then package the book into the box, weigh the package, and pay for the postage out of pocket. You consult the list and fill in the warden's information as the return address. You then address the package to your local library. You then place the package within the employee mailbox. A short time later, you are delighted to see that the very copy that you rescued is now on the shelf at your local library!


Beloved by Toni Morrison is not the happiest read, but it is a quality read. This story of recurring haunting confronts historical and psychological legacies of slavery. Morrison's distinctive writing style is especially engrossing with this title.


You find inmate number 9780545326995 at a table with a tray of uneaten food in front of it. Today's special is Nutraloaf. The book's jacket lists sexual explictness, having LBGT characters, and an offensive political viewpoint as reasons for being locked up.


Books do not need to eat so why is this book being served Nutraloaf? What is Nutraloaf anyway? It looks like a random mixture of food and... a key? A person could have choked on that. Maybe this key could open the nearest door. You grab the book and try unlocking the nearest door. The door to freedom opens.


Drama by Raina Telgemeier is a really good graphic novel! The manga-inspired line work and warm colors are unique. The writing is honest and amusing. Reading through this feels like going middle school all over again, but with a more positive spin.


Uh-oh! Somebody is angry. The guard shouts, "Who are you? What are you doing here? You are not supposed to be reading the books that are housed in this jail!"


Do you agree or disagree with the guard?


"That's right. Furthermore, you are trespassing by being in this area of the prison." says the guard as they restrain you. You are transferred to a human jail awaiting your court date.


A judge throws the non-banned book at you. No one attempts to rescue you. Meanwhile, the banned books remain locked up in the Prison for Banned Books. THE END



You ask the guard how they could arrive at that conclusion if they never had access to the material nor chose to read through it.


The guard pauses for a moment. The guard then says, "You know, I have never thought about it like that before. I can no longer work here in good conscience. Take this skeleton key to unlock all the doors in this prison." The guard then leaves.


You proceed to liberate all of the banned books from a prison which never should have been built. Every reader should have the opportunity to make up their own minds as well as access to a wide variety of material.