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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kent State chapter.

“To Kill a Mockingbird”, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, “The Outsiders”, “Of Mice and Men” and “Charlotte’s Web”, these are just some of the many thousands of books that have been banned. Believe it or not, banning books is not something that is uncommon. In fact, book banning began as early as the year 1637. But when is this going to stop? Is it going to stop? How many books are we going to let people take off of our shelves until we have had enough?

If I am being completely honest, I have never been a huge reader. However, my mom is. Growing up I would always see my mom reading and admired how much joy a simple book could bring to her. When bringing up the banned books issue to my mom, she was saddened just as much as me. When reading off the banned book list to her, she stopped me when I got to “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. This is one of mom’s favorite novels. She poured out to me how much this book meant to her, what it taught her and she could not believe that it was no longer on the shelves.

My mom is not the only one that has experienced some kind of joy when it comes to books, though. So many people turn to literature when they are bored, need a friend or just want some way to escape reality. Knowing that so many of people’s happiness and entertainment has been stripped away from them as if they never existed is heart breaking. Enough is enough.

Now I know that I said that I am not a book girly, but there are times when I like to pull out a book and fully engage in a story. One of my favorite books of all time is “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky. As mentioned earlier, this book is sadly banned. To be specific, it is actually #5 on the Top 13 Most Challenged Books of 2022 for reasons such as LGBTQ+ content, profanity and a few others.

But why? Why do you need to ban a book that has such a positive message and even better ratings? I actually saw the movie before I read the book, both of which are amazing and one big thing I took away from this story is to be yourself. Love others. Change and growth is a beautiful thing. This is something that needs to be taught to not just kids, but to everyone. I believe that in today’s society so many people have a hard time accepting others for who they are and where they are at. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” teaches that important lesson, but does a beautiful job of doing so. I definitely recommend giving it a read and a watch.

When thinking about banned books, there are many quotes from authors that came to mind, but one kept repeating itself. Famous author, Stephen King, says, “Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.”

Just this past Tuesday on September 27, 2023, I attended my schools Banned Book Read-In. This event gave current students, faculty and alumni the opportunity to gather together and read a small piece from not just their favorite banned and/or challenged book, but any book. All literature was welcome. So many emotions were running through my mind while I was at this event. On one hand I found it super interesting to see what kind of books have been challenged and/or banned, but on the other hand I found it very devastating that so many books have been challenged and/or banned.

Hearing everyone speak on so many different novels was fascinating, but one banned book that really stuck out to me was “Charlotte’s Web”. This is a story that most, if not everyone, has heard of. I think a big reason it was shocking to me that this novel is banned is because “Charlotte’s Web” was a book that I was required to read when I was in third grade. I was encouraged to read this book. Now it is off the shelves. The craziest thing is that “Charlotte’s Web” was banned due to the themes of death and talking animals. In my opinion, talking animals is something that is adorable and ignites creativity in children. Death is a concept that is real. Children are going to have to learn about death at some point in their life, so why are we trying to shield that from them?

Another thing that was brought to my attention at the Banned Book Read-In was the Top 13 Most Challenged Books of 2022, which I brought up previously. Seven of the 13 books on the list were banned for reasons of LGBTQ+ content. Let that sink in. That is the majority of the books on the list. The one thing that is being taught to children when taking these kinds of books off of shelves is that not everyone should be accepted for who they are. This is a terrible message. These kinds of novels need to be on the shelves. Kids need to be taught that they are beautiful and accepted no matter who they love or what they look like. You never know what a child may be going through. When books that present LGBTQ+ content are not being represented, that will result in those children or whoever resides in the LGBTQ+ community not feeling represented as well.

According to The Guardian, more than 4,000 books have been banned since the tracking of book banning began in 2021. This is a huge number. But we have the power to decrease this number. Write letters to the editor, bring any issues or concerns to your teacher and/or principal, attend anti book-banning events and promote your favorite banned book. Talk about how much these books mean to you. Anything helps. One thing I am sure everyone can agree on, especially book lovers, is that words are powerful. We have the power to bring change to this issue one step at a time.

Drew Berkshire

Kent State '26

Drew Berkshire is a communication studies major at Kent State University with a minor in public relations and theater performance. In her free time she enjoys performing, watching reality TV, shopping and drinking coffee!!