Why Are Books Banned?


2023 challenges twitter final/American Library Association/https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/book-ban-data/CC-BY-ND 2.0

Adeline Tolman, Reporter

Book banning has always been an important topic, but it is even more important in today’s tumultuous climate. In the past four months alone, there have been 1,477 instances of individual books being banned(PEN America). With this drastic increase from previous years, we have to ask why these books are being banned.

The vast majority of books targeted for censorship in 2022 were written by or were about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color (American Library Association). Other topics in banned books included race and racism, violence, abuse, death, and sexual material. (List of the top 13 banned books of 2022: https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/ frequentlychallengedbooks/top10)

Book bans are an interesting topic, especially in relation to schools. Students generally have the same First Amendment right to freedom of speech as non-student adults while attending school, but parents and staff may be concerned about the “appropriateness” of books available in school libraries or classrooms. However, book bans over the past 20 years have consistently included long-standing classics such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Bluest Eye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, The Giver, and The Handmaid’s Tale, among many others(Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books: https://www.ala.org/ advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/decade2019) These classics often contain themes of race and racism, violence, and abuse, but the hard-but-valuable lessons that students learn from reading these books has always been more important than their physical contents.

Parents are absolutely allowed to make decisions about what is best for their children. If their child is required to read a book for a class, or just wants to read a book they got from school, the parent is allowed to decide whether or not their child can read the book. However, when a parent insists that everyone in the school should not read the book, it infringes on the other students and their First Amendment rights.

Book bans are largely undemocratic. Our democracy is based on the freedom of information, and book bans go against this freedom of information. The desires of a few to remove books from public and school libraries should not dictate the freedom of everyone else in the community.