Monday, September 27, 2021

You Can’t Read That!


What is your favorite book? Harry Potter? Hunger Games? Thirteen Reasons Why? Eleanor and Park? Did you know that these books and hundreds of others have either been challenged or banned? So, what does that mean, and how does it affect you?

Let’s start with what does it mean. A banned book is a book that has been removed from the shelf of a library or school. A challenged book is a book that some people think should be removed but hasn't been removed from the shelves of a library or school. Rulers and groups of people have been challenging and banning books ever since books were invented. Way back in 212 B.C., Chinese emperor, Shih Huang Ti burned all the books in his kingdom so history could be said to have begun with him. Thomas Morton is believed to have been the author of the first banned book in the United States in 1642. The book New English Canaan critiqued and attacked Puritan customs, so the Puritans banned it. Most reasons books are challenged or banned in the U.S. include obscene language or sexual descriptions, offensive language, unsuitable for age level, homosexuality, racism, and religion. Reasons other countries ban books may include charges that the ideas of the book speak against the interests of the state which means political reasons.

 Now, how does it affect you? It’s all about censorship which is defined as the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security. Basically, it is someone telling you that just because they do not like something you shouldn’t either. Lucky for us though in the United States, your right to read what you want is protected by the First Amendment and in a free society, the author and reader are protected. Groups still push to have books banned but organizations, like the American Library Association, push back so that readers can choose what they want to read and not what someone else dictates them to read.

With all that explained, banned books have a whole week in September that is intended to draw attention to the censorship that groups want to enforce on other’s rights. Don’t let others censor what you read. Stop by your local library and check out a banned or challenged book in support of Banned Book Week or any of the other 51 weeks of the year!

Follow this link ALA link for the 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books from 2010-2019.