Banned books are not a new issue in our generation, either before us. In many ways, banned books could be interpreted as a way to control people’s thoughts. The U.S. government decides to “protect” Americans from controversial topics, like racism, sexuality, gender identity, etc. But, are we considering these topics as controversial or questionable? Or as a risk in public schools if these ideas escalate to a culture war?
The government sees books as a danger. According to PEN America, a nonprofit organization that works to defend and celebrate free expression in the United States and worldwide, published that during the first half of the 2022-2023 school year, 1,477 instances of individual books were banned, affecting 874 unique titles.
Some of the titles are:
“Gender Queer,” by Maia Kobabe
“All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George M. Johnson
“The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison
“Flamer,” by Mike Curato
“Looking for Alaska,” by John Green
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
“Lawn Boy,” by Jonathan Evison
“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie
“Out of Darkness,” by Ashley Hope Pérez
“A Court of Mist and Fury,” by Sarah J. Maas
“Crank,” by Ellen Hopkins
“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” by Jesse Andrews
“This Book Is Gay,” by Juno Dawson
The government, alongside the schools, removed works of literature containing any sexual content. Titles that address racism and LGBTQ issues are also considered a “danger” and have been removed from libraries in 32 states in the past year. 32 states from the United States. Nevertheless, banned books are only been removed from schools and public libraries. You will be able to find a copy in a bookstore or online. However, the issue isn’t resolved after visiting a bookstore. What if the kids are not receiving the full knowledge of these books? Why are we limiting our younger minds? What’s the upcome the government wants to achieve?
Not only are recent books getting banned. We have classics like “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “The Catcher in the Rye” by JD Salinger, “1984” by George Orwell, and more books we read in middle school and high school. What changed from a few years ago to today’s date? Are the parents and the government afraid to face these topics?
We overestimate our students and our kids, protecting them from difficult ideas and information. If you search “why books are getting banned?,” one of the first answers is “ Books usually are challenged with the best intentions- to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information.” What are the best intentions? Where are the rights to freedom? The younger minds have the right to learn all the things they want, and we, as a community and part of the country, have the responsibility to give them a proper education. We need to teach them the uncomfortable, controversial, diversity, and all these topics that are getting banned. Our teachers in the U.S. are doing their best to provide the right education, why are we limiting their resources?
If you want to know more about Banned Books in the U.S., please visit PEN America.