Literature plays an important role in student’s education. It is a valuable tool for both understanding history and learning about human nature. However, there are a few books that students will never be able to learn from in the educational system, and possibly never learn from at all.
Censorship is not a new concept, however, within our new age of political correctness our process of “sheltering” students could prove more harmful than effective especially regarding something as crucial as literature.
In order for a book to be banned it must first be challenged where the person responsible for challenging the book expresses their opinion and states why they believe the book should be banned. However through the diligence of the American Library Association, some books are able to be saved from restriction.
The main reason many books are challenged in schools is due to the push of parents who believe that the book is unfit for their student. This could mean the book is too “intense” or has what they believe to be inappropriate content. The ALA outlines three main reasons books are challenged and ultimately could be banned: the material is explicit, it contains offensive language, and it is unsuited for a particular age group. Sometimes books may be challenged for social, political, and religious reasons as well.
Schools are not the only environment that books may be challenged. There are many advocates who wish to have books removed from libraries across the country.
The ALA has a list of the most challenged books of all time; among these are “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, “The Catcher in the Rye”, and “Of Mice and Men.”
The OIF, Office for Intellectual Freedom, is a department under the ALA that is responsible for promoting libraries and their educational purposes. Their main mission is classified under the Library Bill of Rights that pushes all libraries to “challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.” The OIF plays a key role in making sure that people, students included, have access to the stories and information they need.
The problem lies in the fact that many books are banned because ultimately they are “too uncomfortable” for people to read. These challenged novels are often published to confront the status quo- in a sense, their entire purpose it to be uncomfortable for people. Books are written to incite discontentment in order for change to happen.
Banned Books Week took place the last week in September. Libraries across the nation aimed to raise awareness to the OIF and their goal of freedom of expression in literature for those who will benefit from it. Through this celebration of reading, libraries everywhere are able to draw attention to the harmful effects of censorship. They are able to show how the freedom of expression and speech are important, especially in learning.
As for the historical aspect, books are able to convey stories with important context that we can learn from. Novels can provide insight to specific times in history and are critical for learning and comprehending the themes of novels.
Currently their are many books being challenged within schools and it is sad that many people do not understand just how dangerous it is to censor expression in our country. Schools are a place for learning and students should not have to worry about their material being censored as they read the valuable information these stories have to learn from.
Lauren Johnston // Backpage Editor and Business Manager