Banned books restrict rights

Banned Book Week is an annual event to celebrate the freedom to read led by the American Library Association (ALA). This year’s Banned Book Week lasted from September 23 – 28 with the theme, “censorship leaves us in the dark, keep the lights on.” 

 ALA is an organization started in 1876 by over a hundred librarians that realized the banning of books takes away people’s first amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It wasn’t until the 1980’s when Banned Books Week became an annual event. Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) director Judith Krug was invited into ALA, and successfully gave the event an increase in publicity. ALA strongly promotes Banned Book Week and wants to inform people about their first amendment rights and the dangers of banning books. According to their website, “ALA is currently part of a national coalition to promote Banned Books Week, along with 14 other contributors and sponsors.” 

  Authors are deeply affected by the restriction of their books. It strips them of their freedom to speak when a book is banned, censored, or challenged and prevents their books from being shared with an audience. Author Sarah Dessen quotes in a Youtube video, “Everytime you take a book out of a school library, you deny someone hearing that particular voice.” Dessen’s books, such as Just Listen, have been banned in school districts around the country for offensive language, sex, alcohol, and eating disorders. Censoring books can prevent students from reading their favorite author’s books, and can make school libraries futile to the student’s enjoyment. 

  A book may be challenged for reasons spanning from disrespectful manner to graphic content. Profanity, political stance, religious content, sexual content, and many others are examples of reasons why a book can be censored. The difference between banning a book and challenging a book is, banning means removed from the shelf and challenging means people request for the book to be banned. For example Alice Walker’s The Color Purple has been banned for violence, abuse, and graphic sexual content.

   You’d be surprised when you find out some of your childhood books like Harry Potter, Charlotte’s Web, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Lord of the Flies are censored in some schools in the country. Captain Underpants, a well loved childrens book, was challenged for the past 15 years for claims of teaching disrespectful manners and having a same sex couple as characters.

  The issue with censoring books to students is that it takes away their right to learn and explore different books. 

  Sanderson student Cindy Gonzalez says when asked about the banning of books: “banning books keeps people in the dark about certain things that could help improve the community by simply being aware of those things.”  Books can easily be classified after being challenged by a single complaint from a community member or by a parent.

  “If you’re against books being taken off the shelf, use your voice,” Sanderson librarian Ms.Baucom, says “it’s a shame we have an event.” Librarians want students and the community to be more informed and to spread the awareness of how banning books is infringing upon author and audience rights.