Banning Books

When I was younger I never knew that things like “banned books” existed. Maybe it was because I wasn’t that much into reading then. Or maybe it was because the books were in fact banned and I wasn’t supposed to learn about them. It wasn’t until I was in 10th grade and I walked by the school library that I saw a poster that read “BANNED BOOKS” in curved black letters with several pictures of book covers hanging below it. Banned books? How is that possible? Can people really ban books? I was surprised to say the least.

An article from CNN.com caught my attention as I began my research to learn about banned books. The first thing they mention was how Captain Underpants now tops the banned books listed. I never read the series but I have heard of it. The article goes on to talk about how in 1982 an association set up a week in September that honors the freedom to read, almost in protest to the fact that books are banned. The top reasons for a book being “banned” is because of its sexual content or offensive/violent actions and language. Most complaints come from parents and are aimed towards schools and public libraries. The writer of the article went on to explain how a book makes its way to the banned books. One person makes a complaint, another hears of it, makes their own complaint, and so on. Eventually so many have complained that schools and libraries have no choice but to take the books off their shelves. The writer also talked to two authors who topped the banned book list in 2012. What I liked most about this article was that it looked to the authors for their opinions on their books being banned. It shows how they feel and what they are doing differently. Surprisingly, most aren’t doing anything different. Justin Richardson, author of “And Tango Makes Three”, says that he was writing his books for a specific audience. If you didn’t like his children’s book that follows the tale of two male penguins creating a family, then the story wasn’t for you. All though the article was short it gave us a look at a couple different point of views on the topic of banned books, and informed readers of how big the deal of banned books has gotten.

How does one go about banning a book? Well it isn’t any easy process. Most complaints usually come from parents and then those parents have to go to their local, or school, library and put in a request for the removal of a book. WFMY News 2 of North Carolina went into more detail of the exact process for “banning” a book. Every library in the country should have a “request” form when people can request a book or even request the removal of a book. The request is then taken into consideration with a library and citizens committee, although the library director is the one with the final say. Often libraries will deny the request for the removal of a book. Libraries are strongly about being able to express freedom and allowing their readers to pick and choose what they can and cannot handle. The article expressed that the system is almost the same for public schools. A person can request a removal and a committee of the library staff, other students, and other parents will review the request. The school board makes the final decision.

Having articles like the above two gives readers a little more insight on the process that comes with banning books. It isn’t an easy and quick process, and although many books do get banned several are saved and kept on the shelves. Having these stories available to the public eye allows readers, and even nonreaders, to know what is happening in their book world. It tells us, including me, how important book banning is and what it happens.
The third website I used to gain my knowledge and understanding of banned books was the American Library Association’s website, ALA.org. The ALA is the biggest association who deals with banned books. They are the creators of “Banned Book Week” which usually falls in late September and has been around for more than 30 years. They take this week to really promote those books that have been banned over time. The ALA’s opening statement for banned books is that they “promote the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular…” ALA also goes on to tell about the difference between challenged and banned books. I didn’t know there was a difference until recently. A challenge is said to be an attempt at removing certain books based on a person, or even a group’s, objection. A banning is the removal of that material. The largest reasons for books being banned or challenged is because of the sexual content or offensive language found in the story. Some believe that by banning a book others are pushing our right as stated by the First Amendment. Allowing one person to remove a book from libraries takes the opportunity away from other people to enjoy that book. One person might find the book offensive but there are always plenty of people around who can handle the content. One of the ALA’s main projects is to support local libraries and school libraries across the country during the time of a book challenging. They strongly believe in protecting one’s right to read a book while not going against one’s right to vote away a book. They just believe a book should never banned based on one person/groups opinion.

I think having an organization like this is incredible. I agree with all of their points and wish that book banning didn’t exist. Books are amazing work of art and everybody handles them differently. Having an organization like this allows people to come together and learn about what is happening in the little corners of our world. It allows us all to go to one set site and learn as much as possible when it comes to banning or challenging one of our beloved books.

The three sources I used were alike by providing new information. The articles were not repeats and each explored a new topic. When I was researching I worked through a few other articles and noticed the same thing. The topic of banning books comes with several different opinions and it was hard to find ones that agreed, which is good. Anybody who reads these articles will be able to learn different points of views and all aspects of book banning.

All of this information and these websites matter because it informs people of things they may not have knew existed. I was able to learn about the process of banning books, why it happens, and what some authors do when their books become banned. Knowing this information can give people an insight on the books that are read in the school systems and why those are the choices. These articles had a lot of good information and could inform anybody in just a few minutes.

I strongly suggest everybody talking a look at ALA website and browse all the organizations that are connected to them. They have several different divisions and committees that people can look through and learn about. I do believe it is even possible to join the ALA group and put your opinion out there. No book should be banned and no one person should be able to ban a book.

On a personal note I find the idea of book banning insane. I feel like it is one of those things that should be a personal decision and not made by someone else. If one person doesn’t like a book then they should state their opinion and never read the book again, they shouldn’t make it so that nobody else can stop by their local library and read it themselves. I was very pleased with the information I learned during my research and I feel like these websites have encouraged me to research more.

I don’t know about anybody else but knowing that a book is “banned”, even if it is just in libraries, makes me want to read the books even more.

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