That's Not Allowed

April 3, 2010
Annie On My Mind - too controversial. Bridge to Terabithia - bad language. Forever - inappropriate content. Harry Potter - realistic fantasy. Lord of the Flies - discriminatory to various groups, including humans. The Color Purple - lots of violence and inappropriate content. Then Again, Maybe I Won’t - controversial content. Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary - definitions of obscene words. What do those book titles have in common? They were all banned by a school, library, town or county in the United States. In 2008, 513 books were banned or challenged, according to the American Library Association. Banning books is an immoral thing to do. There should be no such thing as a banned book, and yet, it’s almost impossible to count how many have been banned at one point in time. Children look at books, see them banned, and then either don’t want to read anything, or read only books that are “safe”. The point of a book is to learn something while entertaining yourself - not to read “safe” things.

Think about some of the times banning was used in history. How long did they last, and were they very effective? During the Third Reich, the time of Hitler, Nazis banned books by Jewish authors. Then they burnt them. Were the Nazis really that effective? Censorship, which is looking for bad content in something, generally isn’t a good thing, and doesn’t get the results people wanted. Teens like to rebel or break the rules, and banning books will just make them want to read them more. I have experience with this. One of my teachers told me she wanted to start a Banned Book Club in the high school, and I got online to research banned books. Afterwords, I wrote down a few titles and read the books myself. The books I read seemed no different than other books, though they may have even been better. Censorship of reading should only happen by the reader themselves. It should be up to the person reading the book whether or not to read controversial content. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives the right to Freedom of Speech, so we can read, write, say and hear what we want. Banning books in schools does not go along with that.

People want what they can’t have, so books that are banned will make them want to read the banned books. In school last year, my English teacher told us that we probably shouldn’t read Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer for inappropriate content. I had already read it multiple times. Over the next month or so, it seemed like I saw half of my grade with a copy of one of Stephenie Meyer’s books - my teacher’s words had only encouraged them. People want to know the reasons behind bans. In 1999, Zeeland Public schools banned the Harry Potter books from classrooms and school libraries, since they apparently contained realistic fantasy that encouraged kids to believe in magic. Eventually, they stopped the ban, but a public school should not ban books. Also, Holland Christian Schools banned the Harry Potter books from the schools for being too realistic, but still having magic on both good and evil sides. I went to a program called Lakeshore Little People’s Place after school, and one day I came in with a new set of Harry Potter books 1-5. I started reading the first one immediately, for the second time. We had two copies of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at my house, and I offered to give one to the daycare place for kids to read there. The daycare teacher had to say no, and then explained that the books weren’t allowed in the schools. At the time, I thought that it was unfair. It was unjust, and I felt confused. These were my favorite books. Why on Earth would they be against the rules? I still think it’s unfair, though know I understand why the books were banned. The Harry Potter books went against the beliefs of the school board. I say banning books does not agree with Free Speech.

I have read at least twenty banned books myself. I see nothing wrong with them. Forever by Judy Blume does contain content that shouldn’t be read by little kids, but that is why it is in the teen section. It doesn’t mean it has to be banned from minor’s eyes. The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer does contain swearing and what’s called “inappropriate content”, but that is why it’s meant to be read by teens. Some people need to realize that books have real life things in them, and books with content issues are in the teen section. People, including authors, will swear. They will do things that are not agreed with. That doesn’t mean they should be banned. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble was banned because the police were portrayed as pigs in the illustrations. It’s a picture book with talking animals - no humans. Why should it be banned? The illustrator took a creative liberty. Fahrenheit 451 was banned in multiple schools around the US, and it’s a book about censorship of books and burning books. The author is trying to make the point that books shouldn’t be banned, and the book itself is banned for using bad language, and because his wife tried to kill herself. People listen to songs with horrible lyrics, and then say books with words like that are dirty! Also, I’ve known kids whose parents censor their reading, but not what they watch on TV, and parents are by far the people who challenge books the most. That doesn’t make sense. There are worse things on TV than in books, and books make you think. With that, why are books banned, and songs or TV shows not? The people banned from reading these books are missing out big time. Some of these books are great works of writing, and others are just good stories.

Books shouldn’t be banned. It’s against the First Amendment. Students are missing out. Schools and governments shouldn’t ever ban a book. When books are banned, what makes the people who did it better than the Nazis? People say that it’s too realistic, has inappropriate content, or deals with material that is too controversial. Hate to break it to you, but the same things the books get banned for happens everyday in real life. No one has the power to tell us what we should think - or read.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

pageturner This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 25, 2010 at 3:40 pm
right on. the only person who tells me not to read a book is me,myself, and I. If they bann a book just because it has talking animals, then Dr. Seus's books might be next. And that's just wrong
ivyhopegirl replied...
Aug. 5, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Thanks for that. You're my first comment on this, so you get a big thank you.

I totally agree with you. 

pageturner This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 5, 2010 at 5:29 pm
no problem, I really like your article. Mind checking out my articles? I need some comments too.
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