I don’t understand banned books, particularly for high school. I need someone to explain the thought process behind the whole idea because I must be missing some key piece of the puzzle.
Who is Banning Them?
It is my understanding that it is local advocacy groups, literary groups, and even weird mom Facebook groups that have started banning books. How? What authority do these groups have to issue bans on anything?
- They don’t fund public schools
- They don’t write the books
- They don’t publish the books
- They aren’t teachers involved with educating the children using the books
Why do they get to ban things?
Can I start banning things? I would like to ban some things if all I have to do is make it public knowledge and it becomes a weird standard.
I hereby ban:
- Kale in smoothies
- Parents from talking to referees at little league games
- Adding any more of those stupid buttons at checkouts asking me if I want to tip the cashier who handed me my bottle of soda after I picked it out and brought it to the counter
- And while we are at it, no more killing off wonderful LGBT+ characters in TV shows for “cinematic value”. Banning that too.
What Books are Banned?
No one seems to agree on this. It all seems very localized. But the list sure keeps getting longer. Barnes and Noble have a whole six-page section on its website devoted to banned books. My required reading list in high school could have been pulled straight from this section. To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, The Giver. Those were on my high school reading list.
There are other interesting books on the list. Harry Potter is listed. I read that in second grade because I wanted to. I missed the memo that it promotes witchcraft and using “nefarious means to achieve an end”. I guess my parents missed it too. Tolkien made the list.
Others were more out of left field. Shel Silverstein is on the list, the guy who wrote the short poems with cute illustrations. Dr. Suess made the list. Apparently, the Dr. is racist and Silverstein promotes disobedience and cannibalism. I would hate to tell these people what the Bible promotes. Do you think they have read the Old Testament?
What About the Classics?
There are a lot of older titles included in the list. The ones I mentioned from my high school days are good examples. (We have also banned the Diary of Anne Frank which is just poetic irony.) But I can’t help but notice there is a significant lack of the classics. I don’t see Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, or Hamlet on the list. None of Edgar Allen Poe’s work seems to be featured. Weathering Heights doesn’t show up.
The above-mentioned pieces of literature were required reading in high school. They also had some twisted plots. Macbeth involves murder and witchcraft. Romeo and Juliet encourages overreactions and suicide. Hamlet is more of the same. Edgar Allen Poe builds most of his stories around murder and one story features the gruesome tale of hiding a dead man under the floorboards. (we read that in high school too). Finally, Weathering Heights promotes child abuse, obsession, and revenge. Yet none of these stories are banned. This leads me to my next question.
What is the Point?
Why are books being banned? There is obviously some agenda. They are not attacking the classics, despite their stories encouraging unsavory values as much as anything written in the modern age. So we cannot claim it is due to the matters the books promote. The only books being banned are ones that would prompt discussion over vital issues in today’s world and promote actual thinking. Thinking that could result in the kid forming an opinion that is not the one that these organizations wish for them to have.
These organizations have no right deciding what children can or cannot read and schools should not be allowing them to dictate such.
These books are not bad. Most of these books simply offer an opinion or a viewpoint that these organizations do not want to be heard. They do not get to decide a child’s opinions for them. That is not protection, that is manipulation. A child in high school is allowed to form their own thoughts based on information. These organizations are trying to shove their own beliefs down kids’ throats by making sure they never get to hear any other opinions. If your only way of supporting your argument involves never letting the other side speak, you don’t have a very valid argument.
You should be thrilled your child is reading at all. If your kid wants to read Harry Potter, get it for them and encourage it. If they want to read the Kite Runner, buy it for them and encourage it. If they want to read some weird kitten warrior book series, you get it for them (yes I went through a phase in like 4th grade). If they want to read only holocaust survivor accounts, you help them find them (I did this too in about 6th grade). Reading and seeking knowledge is a trait to be encouraged, not silenced.
These weird organizations do not get to decide what is appropriate for children to know about. They don’t get to decide what it is acceptable to teach. They don’t have the right to silence so many stories just because they are unable to defend their own beliefs in a sufficient way. If a book will convince your child that what you have been teaching them is false, you should take a look at what you have been teaching them, not ban the book.
Thanks for reading Y’all