Why banning books is problematic

Forbidding something like books only raises curiosity and in turn makes those books more sought after.

*Trigger Warning about rape*

Hearing the words “banned books” makes me think there is something about a book that is making people think alternatively about what is going on in the world, or it can make people realize something about themselves. A few of these tales that come to mind are “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, “1984” and “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain and “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorn.

When considering the plot and subject matter of many of these books, the reasons they made the list may become easy to distinguish. The characters in these either challenge an oppressive government and shed light on race issues or the books contains sexual content and bring up topics such as abortion and adultery — which many religious institutions take issue with. 

Many people argue that banning these books doesn’t make any sense, but this is because they are looking at these thematic elements in today’s world. If you historically place yourself when the books were published the reasoning behind the first banning is illuminated by the societal norms of the time period. Yet, several of these works show up on the banned book list time and time again. 

Today some people still have issues with some of these books. For example, “The Scarlet Letter,” which was published in 1852, was banned soon after publication because it contains sinful situations and conflicts with the communities that feel it does not align with their values — the biggest one being adultery. This argument for banning still stands in particular communities today that hold their beliefs close to their hearts. This shows that books published years ago still continue to be banned today.

A list of books that were banned in 2019 included “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margeret Atwood, “The Harry Potter Series” by JK Rowling, “I Am Jazz” by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, “Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teen Speaks Out” by Susan Kukin and a few others. Sharing common themes, these books deal with issues surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community, bodily autonomy and reproductive rights.  

The continued trend I see with these books is the urge to question what society has instilled in us from a young age. Many of these make people feel uncomfortable because of the ways in which the narratives oppose certain religious beliefs. For example, considering witchcraft is a main aspect of the series, the well known series “Harry Potter” has been banned. Other themes that make people feel uncomfortable largely due to religious beliefs is content containing elements of sexuality, suicide and rape. 

Banning books is problematic. Taking away works of literature robs children of the ability to learn and fails to allow them to take what they learn into the real world. It is important to teach young kids about diversity and different life experiences. Literature that veers from what we know helps us to learn about, understand and discuss difficult topics that are seen as taboo.

The fact that banning books is still happening now is absurd to me. That people are still trying to control what can and cannot be read because the theme makes them uncomfortable. These books have so much to offer and the necessary ideas that can be learned from these books are getting ripped away. Banning these narratives fails to open the important conversations the authors aimed to highlight. The themes in these books deserve to be explored, they call attention to issues that are timeless and the experiences found within them are valuable.