Censorship In Public Schools And Libraries

2759 words - 11 pages

Book banning seems an archaic notion to many. Yet as outmoded as banning may seem, censorship is still a huge part of the United States literary culture. Book banning is most often successful at the young adult literature level. Parents, and other objectors, utilize the censorship process in an effort to protect children and young adults from books that they deem dangerous. Public libraries, school libraries, and English classrooms are where these censorship attempts are being waged, often successfully. Indeed, more than 97% of challenges take place in public libraries, school libraries, and classrooms (“ALA Challenges by Initiator”).When these challenges succeed, they also succeed in taking important, compelling, worthwhile literature from the hands and minds of students. Book banning in public schools and libraries is unethical, counterproductive, and futile; not only is it impossible to shield young people from the themes found in realistic fiction, but those themes often serve as incredible coping devices as well as powerful teaching tools. Why ban books in the first place; what is the purpose of taking literature out of the grasp of young people? Those who do challenge do so for a host of reasons. Parents, community members, and religious groups usually challenge books in an effort to protect the young people in the community from things that are contrary to their value system. They hope that by banning these pieces of literature they can protect their children, and community, from themes that are too mature or immoral. These pieces of challenged literature run the gamut of subject and objected content. Among the books banned in the last decade are I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou which was banned for homosexuality, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, and being unsuited to age group (“ALA Top Ten 2002”); Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson was banned for occult/Satanism, offensive language, and violence (“ALA Top Ten 2002”); and the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey has been banned for anti-family content, being unsuited to age group, violence, offensive language, and for containing sexually explicit material (“ALA Top Ten 2002”, “ALA Top Ten 2004”). With such a varied list of texts it proves difficult for libraries and educators to ascertain what books would be found objectionable, or for what reasons. When enacting a challenge, each group or individual generally sets forth to ban a text in order to protect their family from those things they find frightening, inappropriate or dangerous. Their goal is to remove the content from the lives of young people who they believe are too impressionable to separate fiction from reality, to immature to process certain subjects, and too irresponsible to make those decisions for themselves. In fact, some believe that in the case of certain texts the book should be banned regardless of the student’s age or grade level. “We think there are...

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