This week – September 30th through October 6th – marks the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week, a time to celebrate the books that faced adversity from those who do not believe in freedom of speech or that readers can decide for themselves what content belongs in a book or not.
When I find out which books have been put on the list of books that should be banned from libraries, bookstores, and other places where books can be found, it is amazing to me that those books are considered offensive. Some of them are based on historic fact, like To Kill A Mockingbird, which portrays racism in the South before the Civil Rights movement. Yes, racism is a painful subject, and institutionalized racism is a stain on American history. But should we really shield people, especially young readers, from those facts? If they don’t know what African-Americans went through in this country, they’ll never understand the world they live in today. Furthermore, if you’re going to teach students in history class that black people were second-class citizens in the U.S. at one point, but fail to have them read novels that go in-depth into the anguish that they went through, you are kind of being hypocritical in educating young people.
Another example is the Harry Potter series. Some religious people feel the books promote witchcraft and the occult, which they believe violates their beliefs. OK, that’s fine. But why go on a campaign to ban Harry Potter from every library and bookstore in the country? I heard rumors of the books being burned during the height of the banning campaign. That is just silly! If you don’t want your child to read something that goes against the religion you are teaching them, then simply forbid them, not every child in America! This kind of book banning is just another case of enforcing personal beliefs on everyone else, which really is not very wise.
Lastly, one of my favorite YA books is on this list. The Giver by Lois Lowry blew me, and my eighth grade classmates away by making us think seriously and hard about a society so obsessed with being perfect that it turns its citizens into almost robots. This book won awards for making young readers think across the country, but it also caused a lot of controversy because it is laced with euthanasia and suicide. I agree those are troubling topics for anyone, but by having those issues in her book, Ms. Lowry made her readers think long and hard about the possibilities of that happening if such a society were to come into existence. As far as I know, no one became traumatized from The Giver. Most likely shocked, but I really doubt someone locked themselves in a room for days after reading this book. I also highly disagree with anyone who says the novel promotes euthanasia, because it really does not. Anyone who insists that it does probably did not read the book well or read it at all.
Anyway, those are the examples on why book banning is silly to me. There is no sense in keeping history a secret, or forcing your beliefs on others, or believing a book will radically transform the world. People are not that weak-minded or gullible, so please give readers credit.
It is also not part of democracy to ban books. Democracy is more than allowing citizens to choose their political representatives. It allows people to think for themselves and not be controlled by others. By having the freedom to read a variety of books, citizens will expand their minds and see their world differently, which could make the world a better place. Censorship only leads to shutting down those minds and not allowing progress to take place in society. It also does not give people the freedom to live their own lives in the way that doesn’t allow them to fulfill their destinies as human beings. So, there is no way someone can be for banning books and still believe in democracy.
Those are my thoughts about book banning during the 30th anniversary of the week that celebrates the works that caused delightful controversy in America. If you want to find out more about this event check out these websites:
And afterward, buy one or two books on the censored list and read them, and promote democracy!