Monday, October 25, 2004

Now if they'd only read them: The Canton (Ohio) Repository (registration required) looks back to October 1954, when the Mayor’s Committee for Promotion of Good Reading Habits sponsored Operation Book Swap, an initiative designed to coax kids to trade their pesky comics for "good" books and magazines:
Although a campaign against objectionable comic books was being waged throughout the country — Congressional hearings were being held in 1954 in New York, where many of the "bad" comics were published — the book swap in Canton was one of the first of its kind. The mayor’s committee, organized in 1953 and headed by the Rev. Robert P. Barrett, held its first book swap at the Stark County Fair in September 1954, and its success was so substantial that committee members quickly organized a second event. Both times, thousands of objectionable comic books were collected, and hundreds of recommended volumes were distributed.
By midday, the newspaper reported at the time, area youth had nearly exhausted the supply of 1,010 books -- "approved" titles such as Gulliver's Travels, Robinson Crusoe, Tom Sawyer and Kidnapped -- and 4,000 magazines, including Boys' Life and American Girl.