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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SBU chapter.

This week of October, the American Libraries Association, and millions of literacy lovers around the country, are celebrating Banned Books Week.

This time asks us to reflect upon those books that have been deemed ‘too political’ or ‘inappropriate’ for places like schools and public libraries, and have, sadly, been removed. This time asks us to reignite these titles, and to remove the idea of banning literature; preferably before we reach a Fahrenheit 451 crisis. 

There are a variety of nuances that go into this discussion, and your opinion may entirely depend upon your background. For me, I grew up in a home with a father as a journalist and a mother as a reference librarian. My home is one that highly values the power of language and education. Words have meaning. Words fuel education. Stories lead our worldview. This is the culture that I was raised in, and I am proud of it!

Now, having this background, you may have gleaned my opinion on Banned Books Week. Despite this “bias”, I think I would still be in support of this awareness week, but here are a few issues that arise for me when discussing banning books.

Politicization: When did it become acceptable to deem someone’s identity or heritage as ‘too political’? There are far too many books that have been banned for reasons such as: mentions of police brutality, including a LGBTQ+ character, or even including divorced parents. When these books are removed, imagine what it does to the self-esteem of children who see themselves in these novels. How can they see themselves represented, as straight white children get to see all the time, if these topics are erased entirely? Books are a gateway to learn about others, but also a way to see ourselves. We remove this privilege when we deem it as ‘too political’. Additionally, how can real life events, such as oppression of minorities, be deemed ‘political’ when it is happening in real life? The entire argument baffles me. 

Access: There are a variety of communities that do not have the resources that mine does. I have flourished from my public education, having wonderful access of the internet, technology, textbooks and wonderful teachers. If I needed to order a book for school, I could readily buy my own copy at a local bookstore or borrow a copy from our library. Not everyone is as lucky. Some families do not have the finances to buy these books themselves. A common argument that parents make when trying to ban a title is that another family can read the book ‘in their own home, on their own time’. It is a wild assumption to think everyone has access to their desired literature if the titles cannot be found at a school or public library. You preclude those with limited financial resources from the education you can get on your own. This is entirely unfair and, frankly, selfish. 

Conversation: When you add books into the curriculum, or even just have them sitting in your library, you invite conversation; not a radical switch in political ideology, but a conversation. It allows students to form their own opinion on topics, learn from others unlike themselves, and grants a space for natural conversation on more complex topics. Ibram X. Kendi’s popular book, ‘Four Hundred Souls’ has been banned for bringing up issues of race. Having this book even just in the library allows students to have a way to learn about race and discuss this with their peers. When these titles are removed, you lose an opportunity for students to have this talk. Now, I assume this is what the banners are intending to do, but I just cannot understand it. It does not force everyone to agree on every topic. Rather, it strengthen students’ critical thinking, public speaking ability and comfortability with discussing ‘real-life’ topics. 

Along with these three reasons, there are a million more why I am against book banning – but that can be a ‘part two’ article later this semester. As for this week, here are a few ways you can support the cause:

  1. Read banned books (linked here!)
  2. VOTE. Keep education accessible. Hold your legislators accountable.
  3. Support your local libraries and bookstores. Frequent them! Stop into these places before you shop for a title on Amazon or Barnes & Noble (I am guilty of this too!)
  4. Spread the word! Ask your friends if they have heard of Banned Book Week!
Claire Fisher is the co-campus correspondent for the St. Bonaventure Her Campus chapter. She is responsible for the general managing of chapter and executive board logistics with her roommate and co-president, Leah! Claire even implemented a once-a-year print issue of HC at SBU. Claire is currently a senior studying Communication, Social Justice & Advocacy with focuses on theology and political science. Aside from Her Campus, Claire currently serves as co-president of Jandoli Women in Communication, passionate about representation in the media field, and works in the University Ministries building. Lastly, she is a content creator and the communications officer for St. Bonaventure College Democrats. In her time away from academics, Claire loves to walk on local trails or lay in the sun, especially while listening to playlist she made herself. Her love language is music; she even works as a DJ at a local bar! A fun fact you may not know about Claire is that her favorite game show is Press Your Luck.