Before I start, I want to say that I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!! This post isn’t really the place for this, since it is serious, so more on Christmas to come later in the week.
Recently, I came across a post by Julia on a bunch of parents in Illinois who are trying to get some incredible, thought provoking contemporary books banned from their school. Needless to say, I was pissed. That’s incredibly wrong, and Julia did a great job highlighting that. You can read her post here to see what got this started. So I promised that I would write my own post to highlight this issue more. I’ll do my best not to go into a fit of rage.
The books in question (right now) to be banned are:
1) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
2) The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
3)Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
4) A Separate Peace by John Knowles
5)After the First Death by Robert Cormier
6)All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
7)Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
8) I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
I’m sure many of you have read these, and it will probably shock you to know that the reason for them being banned is that parents have deemed them “sexually explicit”. Now, I’ve personally read 13 Reasons Why, and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT (trigger: suicide, sexual assault) and I don’t think there was anything graphic in the entire book. Yes, it had adult themes, but it’s not something fantastical that authors are writing to please student’s sexual desires. It’s a reality for some kids, who suffer, are abused (mentally mostly) and end up ending their lives because of it. Not reading about sexual assault and suicide (and keep in mind, there was nothing graphic about this) is not going to make it go away. Only by reading, and becoming aware, will we ever be able to stop it.
This is where I started writing about how it defeats the purpose of the 1st amendment if we can write whatever we want but it can’t be read, but I deleted most of that because it was getting a bit long and turning into a rant rather than facts. All I really needed to say was that the Nazis burned books when they were afraid of people learning what was inside of them. By censoring what students read, parents are essentially condoning the basis of Nazi regime, and attempting to keep their children in the dark so that they don’t grow and develop as people. Asdfghjkl I don’t understand how anyone could ever be okay with that.
“Regardless of the books, I’m recommending to the board that no literature whatsoever be inclusive of literal metaphorical, figurative or allegorical words for male or female genitals. English classes should not be involved in sexuality in literature for our kids. It shouldn’t be in any books. No books.” That’s a quote from one of the parents which is attempting to ban books. Well, I have something for you. Everybody’s got genitals. All teenagers are going to think about sex. Not talking about it isn’t going to make it disappear. Telling students that they can’t read about it is just going to make it more illicit.
As far as All the Bright Places goes, my freshman brother recently read this as required reading for class, and he came home talking about all of the incredible, eye opening discussions that his class had on it. Even though it might not have seemed to directly relate to him, he took something valuable away from it, and I would be willing to bet that if my (silly, obnoxious, take nothing seriously) little brother could find something valuable in that book, then so could most other people.
To the parents of Illinois, the books are not the problem. It is the way we deal with them. Sure, maybe Lovely Bones could be traumatizing, but it’s real life, and if you read that in school, then you will have the support necessary not only to “cope” with reading it, but to develop a broader perspective on the world. Schools are designed to teach you and help you learn, and so that is the perfect place to be reading potentially confusing, high level books that can make you into a better person.
I don’t know about you, but I think censoring is absolutely ridiculous, and is going to hurt our society. Sure, sexual assault, homophobia, violence, etc isn’t what we want in society, but reading about it won’t make it any worse, and can actually help!!
Thank you all for indulging me in that rant, and please share your thoughts and opinions below! Remember that if we don’t speak up, we are giving the control to the others that will.
Disclaimer: Quote and background information taken from Bookstr (in addition to Julia’s blog). Read the full article there for more insight into this issue.
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~ Now venture off and change the world ~