By Sarah Ellison
October 17, 2018
The American Library Association sponsors Banned Books Week every year in September. This week calls attention to the fact that our Constitution prioritizes freedom of speech over restrictions on what can be published. The list of books that have been challenged in modern history is lengthy, and the reasons that people object to those books are varied. Forest Ridge Library puts up a display of banned books to remind everyone to appreciate the liberty of choosing for ourselves what is appropriate to read. Many banned books are popular favorites, such as the Harry Potter series, and some are classics that are taught in our classrooms, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Persepolis or The Giver.
When I put up this year’s Banned Books Week display the most persistent question was whether or not the students could check out the banned books. On the contrary, many of the girls have probably already read some banned books. Students were also curious about why particular books have been challenged. A tag on each cover indicated reasons like: gambling, offensive language, racism, sexuality, political viewpoint or violence. Students were surprised when such descriptions applied to books they already knew. “Who wants to ban books?” they asked. The conversations we shared over the books encircled by yellow “caution” tape were particularly animated.
Our society keeps evolving. Ideas that were once widespread, such as slavery or the oppression of minority groups, have come to be rejected. We encourage tolerance. One of the forces that helps to promote societal change is education. School libraries are an excellent place to suggest that freedom of speech is vital to our cultural identity. We are united in rejecting censorship.
- Forest Ridge Blog