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How Banned Books Are Destroying Literary Freedom

The importance of libraries isn’t spoken about enough. They are pillars in communities that offer an abundance of resources to everyone. To some, it’s viewed as their slice of heaven on earth and to others, a quiet hang-out spot. Libraries offer something for everyone. Something else that is also not mentioned enough is the issue of literary censorship. 

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Literary censorship is the unjust act of banning certain books or reading materials from public access. I believe this is extremely harmful to children because it’s conditioning them to believe that certain subjects are taboo. This is mostly practiced within the American school system and is often celebrated. There have been many cases of schools banning books that discuss the topic of racism. The popular book, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee was one of the books chosen to be removed from school shelves. Parents shared that the language and topics of race were too “radical” for students. American history should be shared throughout literature, trying to erase the past won’t help undo it. 

Another subject that’s widely debated is censoring books relating to the LGBTQ+ community. The popular book, I Am Jazz by Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel sparked national outrage. Communities argued that the book was too inappropriate and that it went against religious or home values. This book was challenged multiple times and was eventually pulled from school shelves. This proves my point of indirect conditioning and refusing to offer books varying in issues that many people have dealt with and still do. Instead of a five-year-old picking that book up and reading it with an open mind, society has now told that child that the contents are unfit for consumption or that it shouldn’t be read.

It’s unfair that one person’s feelings should impact the literary world of another’s. This issue is deep-rooted in a lot of areas, and some of it stems from the ignorance of others as well as racism, homophobia, and transphobia. As I was reading some of the reasons books were contested, it was because of the constant mention of race or fear of a rebellion. Someone’s fear or deep-rooted “issues” isn't enough to permanently remove a book from the shelf.

What's being done about this? This has been an ongoing issue for years, but thankfully now there are organizations that are fighting back against literary censorship. The American Library Association works diligently to help spread awareness as well as presenting the facts when it comes to censorship in our schools. I do have hope that in the future this will no longer be a battle, but until then, please consider donating to The American Library Association

Professional and Creative Writing Major. IG: zaireeltayeb
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