Many of us have heard about “Banned Books”, but what does the term actually mean?
A banned book is a book that has been removed from libraries, schools, or bookstores, usually by private individuals, government officials, or an organization. There are also challenged books, which are books people think should be removed, but haven’t. When a book is banned, it becomes unavailable in certain spaces, but it isn’t completely inaccessible. However, book banning is still a form of censorship – the suppression of ideas and information – and it reduces the reach of the book.
Why are some books banned?
Books can be banned or challenged for multiple reasons. Those advocating for the removal of certain books usually list one of the following causes: obscene language, unsuitability for age group, sexual or explicit content, offensive language, graphic violence, homosexuality, religion and racism. In some cases, books are also banned for displaying opinions that go against the “interest of the state”.
There is fear amongst those who fight for books to be banned. For example, parents may be afraid that certain books will make their children ask questions they feel uncomfortable answering, or that they will ‘poison’ their child’s mind with dangerous ideas. This is often why children and young adult books are challenged. Books can reveal different facets of reality, and some facets that don’t fit into the narrative children have been told.
The impact of banned books
It is understandable that some books may not be offered in school libraries, such as stories with explicit adult content. However, banning books only because one does not agree with its ideas is dangerous. It is a threat to freedom of speech and thought, it sets precedent for more books to be banned, and it inhibits young people from developing their critical thinking – one of the most valuable skills a person can have.
Banned Book Week
Since 1982, in response to a surge in banned books, there has been an event called Banned Books Week during September. Its purpose is to “emphasize that imposing information restraints on a free people is far more dangerous than any ideas that may be expressed in that information,” and celebrate our freedom to read.
Banned Books in our library
Our school library is well stocked with a wide range of titles. Some of those include challenged and banned books.
Here is an incomplete list:
- All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- George by Alex Gino
- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- Drama, written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
- Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
Want to check out the top 10 most challenged books of the last few years and find out why they made it on the list?
Check out this link: https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10