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The Banning Of Books In American Schools

1490 words - 6 pages

Countries worldwide actively call for the banning of books that are found to be politically inconvenient, religiously awkward, or embarrassing in one form or another. But for writers like Russia's Vasily Grossman, a book's ban means far more than just a dip in sales. In 1961, he pleaded with the Soviet censors, "I am physically free, but the book to which I have dedicated my life is in jail." (Merkelson). A book represents an idea, thus limiting access to a book is banning the representation of an idea. The banning of books in American schools should not be allowed, because banning books will prevent students from learning the reason for the controversy and alternate viewpoints they can come to on their own.
As the American Library Association notes, books are usually banned "with the best intention…to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information." (Brunner). If a book has frightening or controversial ideas in them, adults willing often censor that book from children. From 2000 to 2009, of the 5,099 challenges that were reported, 1,639 of these challenges were in school libraries and 30 challenges in academic libraries. (Frequently Challenged Books). At various times in American history, even some of the tamest books have been banned. Harriet the Spy, was banned because it supposedly taught children to "lie, spy, back-talk, and curse." Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl was banned for being too depressing. A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein, was banned because it might encourage kids to break dishes so they won't have to dry them. (Frequently Challenged Books). While some of these excuses are more reasonable than other excuses, the banning of these books prevents the children from empathizing with others and from understanding the world around them. By banning a book, the book’s literary value, its social value, its entertainment value, and its emotional impact goes ignored. (Rouyer) Some adults just don’t want to deal with the hard or inconvenient questions that may be brought up. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl would be an example of this, since it is otherwise considered to be one of the most important books in history. (Frequently Challenged Books). Other adults truly do worry about the children’s safety, but are missing out on a chance to explain an idea that the child will still confront later in their life, except they may not experience it in a safe environment. Children will often search for information even or perhaps because they are told not to. (Trelease).
Throughout history, books were destroyed as part of the process of suppressing individualism in the interest of the collective or purging intellectuals. Burning a book to destroy a message will always be more acceptable than killing a person who may preach the same message; although they were sometimes done at the same time regardless. Putting aside each of their individual agendas, books ultimately, by their very existence, support...

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