Unban books, let students read

Illustration by Jaida Noble | This book, which is a biography of a great poet, is banned, why?

Many fiction books have been banned in classrooms for decades, why? Which ones are worth reading?

Books are an integral part of our society. They were the first form of communication and kept stories accurate for centuries. 

Books are also incredibly important for students. They critique people or events, tell a story with some sort of moral, or just even provide a fictionalized account of something. Despite this, certain books are banned from being in school libraries or read as part of the curriculum. 

It is insane. I am a firm believer that you have to learn about the history and critically think about stories like “Lord of the Flies” to prevent said history from repeating. If a student wants to read “Mein Kampf”, I say let them, and I’m Jewish! 

So, here is a small list of banned books that I don’t think should be. I encourage you to read them if you haven’t already or, if you have, read them again! I promise you won’t regret it.

“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, is an incredibly moving story about a young Black girl who saw her friend killed at the hands of a police officer. This book is banned, according to the Washington Post, because of “profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message,”. However, this book gives an insight into the life of a Black teenager. I highly recommend it as it is extremely well written. 

The “Harry Potter” series was banned due to “ …referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use ‘nefarious means’ to attain goals,” according to the American Library Association. Come on, you can’t ban Harry Potter! It’s practically a classic. I grew up on these stories and I want all the kids to dream of getting their Hogwarts letter or using Accio to grab something that is too far away. I honestly have no other reason for these books to be on my unban list.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is an amazing book about a young man and his life. However, it was banned due to the mention of drugs and smoking, homosexuality and rape. While this book has some adult and triggering themes, I can’t recommend it enough. It is a beautiful book and there is a reason it is so widely read.

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou is a heartbreaking biography of her early childhood years. It has been banned due to its explicit sexual scenes. However, I think it is important to know the story of someone who has managed to create such beautiful poems. If you haven’t, look up some of her poems, they give me chills every time. 

“Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank. It is occasionally banned due to sexual material. I’m honestly appalled that this book has been banned in schools. The Holocaust was a horrific event and we must learn about it to prevent it from happening again. 

“Looking for Alaska” by John Green. This book has some sexual themes but it’s such a poetic book that you can’t help but overlook them and they are hilarious, I promise. Green is a beautiful writer and I encourage you to look at his other books as well.

“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer. The book is about a young boy who is desperately trying to discover where a key, owned by his father who has recently died in the 9/11 attacks, goes. While this book is a little vulgar, it truly is a saddening and moving story about a young boy trying to process his grief while on a scavenger hunt all over New York.

Some of these books are at the UWT library and I’m sure you can find them all over in many bookstores, or on Amazon. Please, check them out and learn. 

There should be no banned books. It is a parent’s job to choose what the child reads, not ours. I was able to read whatever I wanted as a child and hey, haven’t gone to jail yet! It’s worth a few awkward questions to make sure that your child understands the world. 

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