Banned books should be celebrated

Avery Goodstine

By Avery Goodstine

Banned Books Week has been an annual tradition since 1982 that promotes not banning selected books from high schools, and challenges claims made against the banned books. Censorship is dangerous, and every book added to the banned book list brings us one step closer to the reality of 1984, or Fahrenheit 451.  

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the Top 10 most challenged books from the year before. The list from 2017 is as follows:

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
    2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    3. Drama by Raina Telgemeier
    4. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
    5. George by Alex Gino
    6. Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg
    7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    8. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    9. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    10. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Some of these books I do agree are provocative and explicit; however, no legitimate literature should ever be banned from a school library or be deemed a “banned book.”

To Kill a Mockingbird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that addresses racial inequality in the 1930’s. Racism fueled violence is a prominent theme throughout the novel, one many people find an uncomfortable subject; however, it is a theme of great importance and very popular with teens across the country, often taught in middle school.  

Thirteen Reasons Why was banned because it is about suicide, another very important and relevant topic, especially to our generation. Yes, the book contains very graphic and explicit scenes, but as a whole, the book adds a lot of insight into suicide.

If the book is sexually explicit, contains alcohol or drugs, includes LGBT characters or even alludes to the LGBT+ community, talks about racism, contains witchcraft, or uses profanity, you can bet it has been on the banned book list.

Some books have even been removed from a school’s curriculum altogether and have been challenged to be taken off of public library shelves as well.

Both To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn-two award-winning classics- have been taken off of a Minnesota school district’s curriculum due to language. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is considered by many to be America’s greatest novel.

All literature should be available to people anywhere, at any time. Ask most Jewish people about Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and they will say that everyone should know every single gory detail of Hitler’s ideology.

Not everyone is offended by the same things. Not everyone is offended by obscene language, or anti-religion themes, or the LGBT+ community. It’s wrong to take away a book for everybody because of a few people’s personal beliefs.  If you don’t agree with the content of the book, don’t read it. It’s as simple as that.

Banning books silences people and erases history. Oppressing literature directly interferes with our country’s commitment to freedom of expression.

Banned Books Week is a national movement to protest these books that have all been banned somewhere. For one week at the end of September every year, these books, which are not banned at PA, are prominently displayed in the LMC. These books are praised and we are reminded why they were written in the first place.

Treat books like you treat people: Live with them even if you don’t like them.