Have you ever been captivated by the words in a book? Lost in a world created or reflected by the mind of an author? Has a book ever challenged your ideology?
A contested book is a book that has been the subject of numerous speeches or has received a proposed ban. A banned book is a book that is not available in libraries or stores, including public libraries, school libraries, regions, and sometimes even nations.
Forbidden Book Week 2021 was from September 26 to October 2. According to American Library Association, “Forbidden Book Week… is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read.
In honor of Forbidden Book Week 2021, staff at the David L. Rice Library have created exhibits featuring and providing infographics on prohibited books.
Marna Hostetler, Director of the David L. Rice Library, said: “Forbidden Books Week is an opportunity for authors, librarians, publishers and book lovers to unite around a common cause: freedom to read.
The most common reason for banned books today, according to the American Library Association, is the inclusion of LGBTQ + characters and issues, alongside religious values, sexual themes, racial issues, profanity and stories deemed inappropriate for the age group for which they are intended.
Recently, several beloved book authors have been rightly criticized for insensitive remarks. This has led to the question whether books can be independent from their authors, or whether a book with a morally objectionable outlook can be appreciated for its literature without tolerating its content in the modern world.
In my opinion, there are few or no books that are worth banning.
There are undoubtedly books with despicable and bad content, but simply censoring or banning them ignores the problem rather than solving it. We can use controversial literature to better understand the past and difficult and uncomfortable ideas without risking bringing them into the real world.
Because the banning of books is a modern problem, I have reviewed eight banned books to show how literature of all types is censored like classical literature. The reasons for these prohibitions are in accordance with the American Library Association.
“The Benefits of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky
Reason for the ban: LGBTQ + characters, sexual content, drug and alcohol abuse, abuse relationships, abortion, suicidal themes, sexual abuse, bullying.
Synopsis: “The advantages of being a wallflower” is told through a series of letters written by Charlie, a first year high school student struggling to find his place in his school and the world. To cope with his family issues and his mental health, aspiring writer Charlie, who aspires to be a writer, writes about the upper class man known as the “wallflowers” which teaches him the nature of the human mind and heart.
Despite the very emotionally disturbing topics the book covers, such as suicidal ideation and abuse, the book was strangely the most widely banned in high schools for having a homosexual character. This is a perfect example of the dangers of censoring important issues rather than dealing with them.
It is important that we have conversations about the subjects of the novel rather than ignoring them. This book has been one of my favorites for many years, and I would recommend it to anyone who knows what it’s like to be out of place in the world.
“And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson
Reasons for ban: features a pair of penguins of the same sex.
Synopsis: This sweet children’s book follows two penguins, Roy and Silo, who pair up and do it all together. One day, a zookeeper notices that another pair of penguins could not take care of their egg, so he gives it to Silo and Roy. The egg hatches into baby Tango, and together the three form a family. The picture book is based on a true story of two male penguins from the Central Park Zoo.
Obviously, as the only picture book on this list, I doubt that many students are interested in reading it for leisure. However, this book is important to put on the radar for potential elementary school teachers who wish to include diverse and quality children’s literature in their classrooms.
“The Hatred You Give” by Angie Thomas
Reasons for the ban: profanity, being anti-police, racial sensitivity
Synopsis: Starr lives between two worlds: the poor and predominantly black neighborhood of The heights of the garden and the rich white population of its private school. So, Starr has two identities. Her worlds shatter when her friend is unjustly killed by a cop. Starr can no longer pretend to be someone she is not.
“The Hate U Give” released in 2017 is the winner of the Coretta Scott King and Carnegie Book Awards. It comprehensively addresses relevant issues, including police brutality and racial injustice. This is one of the most popular young adult books dealing with serious issues, and I think anyone can benefit from reading it.
Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Reasons for the ban: racism, including racial slurs, foul language, violence
Synopsis: “To Kill a Mockingbird” follows a young family in the Great Depression as they learn empathy, humanity and how to take a stand. While their father struggles to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman, Jem and Scout are fascinated by their reclusive and mysterious neighbor.
“To Kill A Mockingbird” is the winner of several awards, including the Pulitzer, and has been a staple of classic American literature for decades. It is one of the most popular fictional accounts of life in the separated United States as well as the oppressive nature of the justice system and society towards black Americans.
“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie
Reasons for the ban: blasphemy, sexuality, religious conflict, political conflict, alcohol consumption by minors, unsuitable for the age group
Synopsis: Arnold Spirit Jr. has spent his entire life on the Spokane Indian Reservation, surrounded by the only culture and family he has ever known. Junior leaves school on the reserve to follow his aspirations and desires to become a designer in an all-white school in a farming town. There, her efforts to integrate have a huge impact on her peers and her community.
I read this book several years ago on a whim and couldn’t let go. It’s both humorous and moving with characters everyone would love. Personally, I don’t know of many other books with a perspective on modern Native American life and I think this book deserves a recommendation for this item alone. It has been in the top 5 most contested books for eight non-consecutive years.
“Harry Potter” by JK Rowling
Reasons for prohibition: negative family relations, witchcraft, satanism, occult, religious conflict, violence. Recently, the series has been challenged in light of the author’s transphobic claims.
Synopsis: Harry Potter is a perfectly normal boy, living a miserable life with his aunt and uncle in a respectable small town in England. He resigned himself to the contempt of his aunt and uncle and lived in his cousin’s shadow forever until he was informed that he is in fact a famous wizard. Potter is invited to attend a school which will allow him to learn magic.
Harry Potter has been controversial since its release in 1997 due to its portrayal of a magical world. Despite the huge protest the book met with, it has become a beloved part of popular culture and one of the biggest franchises of its kind.
Additionally, the “Harry Potter” series has been the subject of a modern day book burn due to the author’s recent transphobic remarks. While I disagree with Rowling’s financial support in light of her assault on the transgender community, the story of “Harry Potter” lives on in my heart.
“George” by Alex Gino
Grounds for prohibition: LGBTQ + characters, LGBTQ + themed children’s book
Synopsis: “George” features a fourth year girl Melissa who was born a boy and known by the name Georges. Only Melissa knows her true identity and is caught between fear of being misunderstood and desperation to be seen. A Charlotte’s Web play at school gives Melissa the idea of a plot that her school and community sees as the girl she is.
This book is one of the most banned books in schools and has been at the top of the list of banned books for several years. The writing style of “George” is simplistic, which makes it easier to understand for young children but not as captivating for adults. While I would not recommend this book to any classmate, it is important to share the story with children so that they can understand and empathize with others or themselves.
“The Tropic of Cancer” by Henry Miller
Reasons for prohibition: sexually explicit, vulgar language.
Synopsis: “The Tropic of Cancer” is a theatrical autobiography of the life of Henry Miller. He deplores the difficulties of being a writer in Paris in the 1900s. He follows Miller’s stories, such as as well as his friends and colleagues, as they seek to find a place in the world and better understand their passions.
Probably the least recognizable book on this list, the “Tropic of Cancer” stands out on the lists of banned books because it has sparked large-scale legal action, questioning content that America may call obscene or obscene. pornographic. As a result, US censorship laws were challenged for years afterward.
This story is certainly a difficult read due to its explicit nature and heavy use of racial and sexist slurs, but if you can ignore these elements, “Tropic of Cancer” can be an interesting read, if only for its historical significance.