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Embracing Banned Books This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

How many students in school today recently spent a quiet weekend at home with the Harry Potter books? How many others doggedly applied themselves to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or The Catcher in the Rye, trying to glean enough understanding for an acceptable book report? Both experiences are common to many high-school students. Unfortunately, these books are no longer available to some teenagers whose ­parents and educators have deemed them ­unacceptable.

Throughout the last few years, many parents and professionals have made an attempt to remove books they feel are “inappropriate” from the hands of students. These novels are categorized this way for a variety of reasons, including drug use, violence, sexuality, and profanity; some, like the Harry Potter books, have even been accused of endorsing occultism and Satanism. In light of these claims, many libraries, schools, and teachers have been forced to remove them from coursework and ­collections.

While some may panic when exposed to ideas different from their own, in my opinion, the broadening of the mind through literature is never wrong. When scholars read books of “questionable” substance, their moral values and beliefs are challenged, tested, and often, ultimately strengthened. As young adults, only we really know if we are mature enough to cope with a particular subject matter. If the truth is that we are not, our parents should ensure that we don't read books that call for a higher level of maturity. No one else should have the right to make that decision for an entire group of students. No school administrator, politician, or government official should be able to eradicate our freedom to enjoy the written word as we please.

Personally, when I am searching for a new novel, I prefer to select one that will expose me to new ideas, sometimes drastically different from my own. Books of philosophy, debates, and novels based in ancient civilizations (especially Greek and Roman) are guaranteed to present new concepts, whether about the meaning of love, the idea of fate, or other philosophical ideas. Reading authors from other eras helps us understand that other cultures often embrace ideas and lifestyles that our society has struggled with. For example, in the times of early thinkers like Socrates and Aristotle, homosexuality was widely accepted, and not a subject of contention or debate. Very different from today's world, wouldn't you say?

I strongly urge teenage readers to find novels and stories that challenge you, and force you to think outside your comfort zone. Do not dismiss a writer's work because you disagree with the character's opinions or values; instead, face these conflicting beliefs head on. Because if you are unwilling to test your opinion, how can you be sure it is truly your opinion at all?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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FranzyPants said...
Oct. 17, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I write for my high school newspaper and recently received a lede that a mom is trying to ban a book from the freshman CA curriculum. In following this story, I've learned about the book "reconsideration" process, court cases regarding student first amendment rights, etc. Contact me if you'd be interested in learning more.

The book in question is "The Body of Christopher Creed." The author, in fact, turned me onto your article.

-C

 
Karma_Chameleon This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 17, 2010 at 2:49 pm
That is very interesting - I would certainly enjoy hearing more about that story and what you've uncovered, particularly whenever a decision is made regarding the book's removal from the course. I must admit I am very surprised - though pleased - the author recommended this article. Nonetheless, I hope that all goes well with your research, and whenever your article is finished, and I would very much like to read it if possible. Thank you very much for your comment and story! -Abe
 
TurtleShellTristani This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 4:45 pm

great article.

i do not under stand why some books are banned. i mean it showed be taken to a school board vote or something? why in the world should 1 parent change the rules.

Example: When The Hunger Games (my favorite book in the universe) gave an 11 year old girl nightmares, her mother had the book banned.

 The Hunger Games is a Young adult novel!!!!!!

i  don't get people

 

 
Karma_Chameleon This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 17, 2010 at 2:51 pm
Hm, it makes one wonder why the mother could not simply have talked to her child about the book, or worked a personally arrangement out with the child's educator, rather than infringing on the rights of the entire class (or school, whichever the case may be).  But it is as you said, people are hard to understand sometimes.
Thank you for your comment, I appreciate it!
 
claire-baire replied...
May 4, 2011 at 5:41 pm
I tottaly agree with abe. The Hunger Games are ment for young adult readers and if that girl and her mom had problems with it, why not talk to the teacher instead of having that book banned. Also, books that have profanity, I can only say a few words about that. We hear worse at school from other children.
 
amybug said...
Sept. 2, 2010 at 5:14 pm
Five stars, and has been added to my favorites! Great, Great job! I love it! I know its been said before, but especially the last paragraph! Also you had your opion piece placed in the magazine, so do you have any idea how long it takes before your story is put on the website, and the message will no longer say pending? I've been waiting for probably two weeks now.
 
Karma_Chameleon This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Sept. 26, 2010 at 7:40 am
Thank you! I appreciate it!
As for how long it takes work to approved, it generally depends on what category your work falls under. Nonfiction and opinion pieces rarely take more than three weeks or so, fiction pieces take a little bit longer, and it can take anywhere between one to two months on some poetry pieces.
 
JaneA This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 10, 2010 at 4:03 pm
It's about time someone publically approached this issue. I love this article. It was beautifully expressed and beautifully written. I am in full agreement.
 
crawfordkid This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 10, 2010 at 4:17 pm
Thank you, I appreciate it!
 
jonas_chick899 said...
May 8, 2010 at 2:22 pm
i really liked the last paragraph!!!!!!
 
crawfordkid This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 8, 2010 at 3:34 pm
Thank you! :-)
 
serena said...
May 3, 2010 at 6:57 pm

I agree. It seems like banning books would violate the right to free speech, wouldn't it? But for a lot of banned books the author is dead and can't protest that he's being censored. I think that the right to free speech ought to include a right to read what we want.

censorship/banned books vs. the first amendment-- that would be an interesting report if someone had to write an essay for school...

 
crawfordkid This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm
I know, it would seem that way. *Rolls eyes* But the politicians nowadays could find a loophole in anything. Anywho, thanks for reading!
 
JeanGrey said...
Apr. 20, 2010 at 12:21 am
*nods in agreement* I support this 99.99% + .01 lol little math nerd humor I tried...not every good at it unfortunately. Anyways, outstanding!
 
crawfordkid This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 8, 2010 at 3:31 pm
Thanks Jean - and I quite enjoyed that math humor. ;-)
 
little-miss-sunshine said...
Mar. 3, 2010 at 6:18 pm
YES! Now we just need to get this to the people who ban books! I completely and entirely agree with you. We are responsible enough to decide what we want to read, and to read stuff that conflicts our beliefs!
 
crawfordkid This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 3, 2010 at 6:51 pm
I want to send it to someone, but I'm not sure who has the finale say in banning literature. The government does surely, but some places it is only the opinion of the institution or faculty...if you have any names, I'll be sure to send it right away! ;-)
 
little-miss-sunshine replied...
Mar. 4, 2010 at 6:31 pm
Sorry i don't have any names, but do you think your librarian would know something like that?
 
crawfordkid This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 6, 2010 at 1:33 pm
Hm, probably, I'll ask her!
 
little-miss-sunshine replied...
Mar. 7, 2010 at 3:41 pm
That would be great. I'm not sure how we'd do this, but we should organize a petition or strike against the banning of books and maybe we could make that rule change!
 
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