Banned Books Week

I read banned books. From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Huckleberry Finn, from Song of Solomon to The Things They Carried, I find something valuable in wresting with ideas and depictions that other people find dangerous.

Library systems across the country have been asked to remove more books from circulation than ever before. Are some books too dangerous for young people to read? At what point should people be free to read whatever they want?

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32 Responses to Banned Books Week

  1. Jacqueline Smith says:

    To a certain extent, I understand where some educational institutions may be going with banned books. Some call it censoring, if it’s about race, and some books are just banned. An experience that illustrates this well is when we covered Marxism in AP Euro, and it seemed like everyone was hyped about communism and the Communist Manifesto for a few months. However, I don’t either of those examples constitutes banning a book. I think that that practice is repressive and frightening for a liberal society. There should probably be more education about ‘difficult’ topics for America like racism and radical politics to where institutions don’t feel the need to ban topics. Limiting knowledge is a dangerous game.

  2. Kelvin Pool says:

    If the ideas and depictions are found dangerous I think it would make more sense to not ban them. Banning books seems to bring more attention to them. I also think that withholding any knowledge from people who actively seek it is wrong. Knowledge is power and keeping knowledge away from those you don’t want to have it is selfish and cowardly.

  3. Gracyn Young says:

    I believe that people should be able to read whatever they want, whenever they want. With that being said, I don’t think other people should have the ability to take away that right through banning books. Like Kevin Pool said, “knowledge is power,” and when taking away that power through withholding books, it puts others at an unfair advantage. Especially considering that a majority of banned books are purely fictional, though they may have some hints of a dystopian, yet possible, future.

    I don’t think that books are too dangerous, period. However, I can understand a parent or guardian restricting access to certain books because they may be inappropriate or their child may not be mature enough.

  4. Ava Wilson says:

    People should technically be able to read whatever they want, but are there things that everybody in the world unanimously agrees is so evil and wrong that we should never let our children read? Maybe a book that is titled 10 Steps to Committing Murder: For Dummies should be banned because it teaches kids how to commit murder, or because most people agree that murder is wrong. So I guess you could say that if most people agree that a concept in a particular book is immoral then it should be banned. This argument makes sense but if you replace murder with something else, then where does that argument go? Based on what books have been banned so far, the common denominator is not something that can be unanimously defined as evil like murder or hate speech; it is often things like race, religion, sexuality, etc.

  5. Alex says:

    In my opinion, books themselves cannot be dangerous. Even though some books may present extreme, violent, or intense ideas, practices and scenarios at the end of the day they are just words on a page. The “danger” element only comes into play depending on how the reader chooses to react to what they have learned from the book. If the reader decides to take their new-found knowledge and apply it to a malicious act, the fault is on the reader. The way I see it reading a book is just as dangerous of an option as using bleach to whiten your clothes; it does not present any danger itself, but it could be used as a tool for a more dangerous mind.

  6. Rushyendranath Reddy Nalamalapu says:

    Literature is the method of expressing thoughts, ideas, and stories to the general populous. This has been true for a few thousand years and will continue to be the case in the future. Censorship exists for a multitude of reasons which range from explicit content to inaccurate information. A censored book is usually banned from a library, school, institution, government entity, or publisher.

    While a book can be banned, it is not especially desirable to erase any trace of its existence. If this logic was applied hundreds of years ago then some great works which may have seemed controversial at the time would have never come to light. If the scientific community had decided to eradicate all of Nicolaus Copernicus’ great works then we might have lost very significant information about the true nature of our universe and celestial mechanics.

    Certain books contain content that is not rational to expose to a ten-year-old and should not be endorsed to young readers. This might be true because it is explicit or contains harmful rhetoric. Harmful rhetoric is undeniably a subjective term, but the idea is that sometimes banned books are not that obscene. Some works are banned in China for not embracing the core-Socialist values and being too liberally democratic. Such an example shows that banned books can be more of an institutional concept rather than a literal one. It is important to preserve history in the form of literature, so books should not necessarily be deleted from the database of human knowledge. Rather they could be restricted in a way that would provide access to individuals who are mature enough to comprehend the text.

    My previous school assigned a reading assignment with the novel “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinback. This book is actually banned in some locations for obscene language, some racially discriminatory dialogue, or dialogue insinuating dangerous or illicit activities. A solution to this issue is to restrict the book to individuals over a certain age. This allows the children of age to read the book with a proper concise and process the plot instead of using the language exposed to them inapporpriately.

  7. Bill Arnoldus says:

    Some books should be restricted from public libraries and schools if they are dangerous or inappropriate to those reading them. But the surge of book bans in Mississippi isn’t because of this. The books that are being banned host LGBTQ+ characters and characters of color. Banning/restricting these books in schools is particularly concerning because it sets the notion of inhospitableness toward people of color and LGBTQ+ members which further ostracizes them. I can understand that some parents don’t want their child reading certain things, but in today’s time, topics of race, gender, and sexuality shouldn’t be shunned from the youth, but instead, be openly available to learn and discuss.

  8. Nora Courtney says:

    I don’t believe in putting restrictions on reading materials of any sort. In my opinion, limiting people’s resources of knowledge is one of the most dangerous things that can happen for our society. I understand some books contain graphic or triggering topics, but that doesn’t mean they should be banned. A simple warning would do. However, when the topic of banning books comes about, it is mostly books that represent the troubles or triumphs of the LGBTQ community of those of people of color. Limiting someone’s access to books is unethical.

  9. Ava Noe says:

    Free speech is the truest form of freedom. All inherent rights of man are enlisted under freedom of speech such as the freedom to practice religion and protest the government. Schools in our state and in our nation are ‘taking a stand’ against ‘inappropriate’ texts but the numbers are showing something else entirely. At least 33% of the books had LGBTQIA+ characters, 22% of the books had to do with racial issues in the States, and 41% of the books’ main protagonists was a person of color writes Education Weekly. This is not an attack on literature itself, it is an attack on the rights of people. A teacher in Virginia who will remain nameless came before the school board and ‘bravely’ spoke about her resignation because the state of Virginia has said all student’s pronouns will be respected. She believes that it overly politicized the classroom. Strong words from an English teacher. It’s ignorance like this that makes school not a safe space of kids. The administration and school boards are saying we, as the student population, are being indoctrinated by these books but it isn’t the books ‘making us gay’ and scaring us. That job currently is being left up to administration. Books shouldn’t be banned. Some old man sitting in a dusty office somewhere shouldn’t be the one to tell me what I can and can’t educate myself on. This isn’t a question of if Fifty Shades of Grey is okay for kindergarteners to read, its the question of if those kindergarteners can see literal representation of people who look like them on shelves. Appropriate content is easily regulated but topics themselves shouldn’t be. The books are not an attack on the kids, they are an inherent right that needs to be respected.

  10. John Robert Walker says:

    Obviously, there is no sense in kids in elementary school reading Fifty Shades of Grey, but like Ava Noe stated, that is not the matter here. There is no reason library systems should be banning books relating to topics such as race, gender, or sexual orientation. The argument is that they are protecting kids from harmful ideas when really they are only harming them. It is important for students of all backgrounds to feel represented, and banning books that accomplish that sends a harmful message. I am not necessarily against banning books, but when it is for the wrong reasons, there is no sense in it.

  11. Atticus Ross says:

    I don’t believe books should be banned in library systems. Unless they contain inappropriate material that should not be read by children, books shouldn’t be banned for having historic material or diverse characters. For example, a graphic novel titled “Maus,” a nonfiction graphic novel about a survivor of the Holocaust was banned by a Tennessee school board last year. This brought much attention to the book, making it a bestseller on Amazon after many people discovered that it had been banned. People wondered why it was banned, especially since it is based on true events and should be allowed for kids to learn about history. Overall, library systems shouldn’t ban books unless they have a legitimate ethical reason to do so.

  12. Jack Sisson says:

    Censorship should not apply to ideas deemed dangerous or inappropriate. It should be the choice of the reader to decide if the book is unsuitable. Libraries do not expose the ideas of the book to any patrons, as the book remains closed unless they choose to read it. The only exception that comes to mind is underage library patrons. Just for their own safety, children should not be allowed to check out books filled with terribly violent or disturbing stories. A simple solution could be requiring a parent’s permission to check out books with upsetting themes.

  13. Laykin Dixon says:

    I feel as if books shouldn’t be banned you should be able to read whatever you want to read. In an educational setting to some extent some books should be banned. A second grader shouldn’t be introduced to stuff that’s not acceptable for their age. Most books that are banned though you can find on the internet so why ban the book when people can do just the same by looking it up on the internet. Books shouldn’t be banned because of race , gender, or sexual orientation just because parents want to “protect their children” when in reality that isn’t something parents should be “protecting” from their kids.

  14. Nicolas Neal says:

    There is certainly utility in removing some books from circulation. No library contains every published work ever written, as it’s simply unpractical. Libraries must therefore make decisions about which books to carry, and such decisions require criteria for book-desirability. If a publisher chooses to publish a heap of garbage with no literary value, then a library is unlikely to allow it to take up space on its shelves. Similarly, if a book is considered to comprise harmful sentiments or promotion of unpalatable ideas, then it, too, is unlikely to be available. I think that there is nothing remarkable about this practice of exclusion, though, it is silly to eschew books on any grounds beyond their uselessness, such as on the grounds that they further a doctrine deemed dreadful according to some arbitrary metric. You would think that a library shouldn’t be empowered to decide what its users do and do not have access to.

  15. Savannah Bryant says:

    I do not believe that banning books is entirely productive. Removing books from circulation will not prevent a hungry mind from learning because we have many platforms in which the same information can be found. Also, I do not believe any information worthy of being published, should be labeled as “dangerous.” For example, sex education. Many argue that younger individuals should not be learning about the human body and reproduction because they view it as inappropriate for their age, so they suppress their knowledge. However, I think that is very illogical and naive. If any of the population should be pursuing sex education, it should be children. They should be taught correctly at a young age so they can practice and perfect what they’ve learned throughout their lives. I believe that anyone should read what they desire, despite what the content may consist of. These matters that are left in the dark should be brought to our attention, and it is quite unreasonable of one to limit another’ s learning based off of someone else’s beliefs.

  16. Elijah says:

    Personally, I find it bothersome that there is such a thing as banning books. I feel like they are important to knowledge, entertainment, and education, and limiting them because some details are not for children seems wrong. In my opinion, I feel like it should be a provider’s responsibility for being in charge of children in what books they have access too, but that doesn’t mean banning them completely, because adults might actually want to read them.

  17. Mira Patel says:

    I believe that people should be free to read whatever they wish to read because many books offer something valuable like Dr. E said. It can be helpful to analyze certain books and determine which ideas are helpful to society. Books can also give exposure to young people about certain things that they may not be learning in school. It is important to make books accessible to society because they can teach harsh realities and important topics about history. This knowledge is powerful and should not be kept away from the public.

  18. Eddie Lai says:

    Are some books too dangerous for young people to read? At what point should people be free to read whatever they want?

    In my opinion, books should not be banned. It, at least in some sense, goes against the ideals of freedom that the United States was founded upon. Furthermore, online resources are far more dangerous than books. They are more widely and easily accessible to access and contain much more dangerous content. For example, one could easily find out a way to manufacture explosives or drugs given they look in the right areas. I believe that books do not pose enough of a danger to validate banning them. Oftentimes, destructive pieces of writing are used to reflect on literature and history. Pieces like the communist manifesto or industrial society and its consequences can be used just for this.

  19. Lisa Seid says:

    Books are a form of education. They hold valuable information, and in all aspects, they provide new knowledge. By banning books, you are restricting knowledge from the people. It is not up to a higher authority to tell people what they can and can’t read, especially if they haven’t read it themselves. Banning books doesn’t even stop people from reading them, maybe even encouraging them more so. Awareness of “hard” topics rather than hiding it is important in schools and other institutions. I would only consider censoring books with contents that could put lives in danger with threats of human security.

  20. Mehar Gill says:

    I believe that there are certainly some books that are a little dangerous for young people to read, but the books being banned are not the books that are dangerous. Most of the books that are being banned are written by authors who are people of color or LGBTQ+, and I believe that this is not right. The books that are banned are often about the prejudices towards these certain groups. These books need to be read by the younger generations so they truly understand the struggles that some of these groups endured. I believe books that should have limited access to the younger generation should be books that promote violence towards others or harmful ideals to society. I am not against limiting access of books to certain age groups but I believe if a book was to be declared banned it would need to seriously promote dangerous ideals.

  21. Jacob Neal says:

    Libraries are institutions that strive to collect and disseminate information, however, let’s not pretend that young children are going out to their local library to read up on the latest and greatest critiques of the social and political system. If they do go to the library, and that’s a big if, they are going to read Fly Guy and The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar. I seriously doubt that banning books causes great strife to marginalized people because libraries are so underused nowadays and other means of diffusing information much more convenient that if an idea was truly ground-breaking it would find other means of dissemination.

  22. Max Feng says:

    From the view of a parent, I can understand why these books are banned. However, I think that banning books because of the “message” is unfair. For example, the book “The Hate U Give” was banned because of the anti-police message and profanity. Banning a book because of an anti-police message seems like an infringement on free speech to the author.

    I do believe that books can be too dangerous for young people to read, but after 5th grade, books should not be regulated. During middle school, I remember students becoming more connected to the world through the news and social media. They were exposed to the current wars, political debates, and the economy. I believe that exposing these topics to young middle schoolers will better prepare them for high school.

  23. Kadie Van says:

    I believe that books are meant to be informative or entertaining (which ever one reads for), and for that reason, I believe banning books are not as beneficial as one would assume. While I understand that some books may be more mature than others for certain readers, there is a low possibility that a five-year-old would read an adult book. In addition, banned books still exist in the circuit. Libraries banning books will have little effect on those who would want to read the banned books. They could simply do some online shopping or searching. In today’s society, nothing is hidden. Children and adults should be taught how to handle what they can and cannot read which brings me to believe that banning books may solve a momentary problem, not a lifetime.

  24. Gordon Welch says:

    I believe that people should be able to read whatever book they want to. Banning a book is ridiculous since you are just taking away public information. In this new technological age, even young children are exposed to ideas and media way worse than what can be read in almost any banned book. If you have a problem with controlling how people use their phones and computers, then you can’t simply ban a book.

  25. Jenna De Ochoa says:

    Library systems should not be asked to remove books. Every single book written has information that is useful to some extent. Whether the purpose of the book is simply to conjure a laugh, the book has some purpose. Obviously, there should be a limit to the kinds of things that young people read. Being 15, 16, or 17 years old, one is still classified as a young person, but I am referring to even younger individuals when I say that young people should not be free to read whatever they want. There is a large percentage of books that feature content that I would not want my younger brothers to read. This includes books that have in depth descriptions of graph death or sexual scenes. That said, in general libraries should not be forced to restrict the books that they can offer and children should only be protected from ‘banned books’ when absolutely necessary. Kids should understand that this world is not jus peaches and cream but that doesn’t mean they need to know every gory detail.

  26. James Talamo says:

    I don’t think there are many books out there that would be an issue, however, books that describe borrowing events in great detail. I believe literature should be able to be very detailed, however, but not be banned. Banning books is simply oppressing ideas.

  27. Adalberto Estrella says:

    Books shouldn’t be banned because they are meant for entertainment and for research. If a book is considered too controversial or has an issue that many don’t like, then with less reason should that book be banned because then it gives people for chance have an opinion on the topic themselves. I understand why there could be age restriction on some books because some contain adult level things but I don’t think there is a book that should be banned from the public being able to read it. Lastly, an individual should know what they can handle when it comes to reading and what they should read.

  28. Elliot Mathers says:

    The worlds already a dark place. Banned books exist because people view them as harmful so why just ban books when you could ban everything that makes this world a better/worse place. Books are used to enlighten and entertain but so many other things are as well and usually are not as productive as books. So yes banned books exist like they already do to allow the people reading them to be wary of what they are reading because some people will always break rules.

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