Certainly, no responsible parent or educator wants young people reading trash or vaguely concealed lies. A narrow line often separates a truth from a well-stated falsehood. In fact, much great literature includes harsh or degrading facts that many will consider offensive. Within literature, we also find ideas that invite discussions, motivate scrutiny, and require assessment for the establishment of personal values.
Texas has banned more books from school libraries than any other state in the union. Titles include topics of racism, abortion, and LGBTQ. Without a doubt, these are tough issues. We want our populace to spend time thinking honestly about these controversies. I wonder, what happens to the foundation of democracy if we limit inquiry and intellectual freedom by removing information? Does being overly protective squelch critical thinking?
Across the United States, 1,648 book titles have been banned. LGBTQ titles formed 41% of those removed. Instead of turning young people against ideas, perhaps losing access makes topics more enticing. Banning books also seems counter to Governor Abbott’s pledge to increase parental rights. Shouldn’t parents and teachers be making these decisions rather than government? Removing books can be especially harmful to students in schools situated in low economic areas. Students seeking validation may find that titles they seek have vanished from school libraries and classrooms. Where will young people go to gain information? The streets? Cults? Unscrupulous peddlers of dangerous ideas?
I must confess that I have not read many of the newer books that have been banned. Old time favorites that have also been removed include To Kill a Mockingbird, Animal Farm, 1984, and the well-loved Charlotte’s Web, which I read to elementary classrooms, as well as to my own children. If removed from school libraries, I wonder how many of the banned books will be purchased less expensively though Kindle or at half-price bookstores. History revealed the wasted efforts of banning alcohol. Determined people will read what they feel determined to read, just as many people drank what they were determined to drink.
Regardless of how controversial a book may be, protection of freedom probably becomes the most important issue at stake.
Lopez, Brian. “Texas Has Banned More Books Than Any Other State New Report Shows.” Loewy Law Firm Helping Injured Texans. Sept. 19, 2022.
Solomon, Dan. “A User’s Guide to All the Banned Books in Texas.” Texas Monthly. September 20, 2022.
A partial list of banned books can be considered below:
· Between the World and Me
· Of Mice and Men
· How to Be an Antiracist
· Gender Queer
· Final Takedown
· All Boys Aren’t Blue
· Gay Issues and Politics: Marriage, the Military, & Workplace
· Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
· Jack of Hearts
· The Breakaways
· Out of Darkness
· Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
· Safe Sex 101: An Overview for Teens
· A Teen’s Guide to Contraception and Pregnancy
· Abortion: A Documentary and Reference Guide
· The Abortion Debate: Understanding the Issues
· Roe v. Wade
· We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy
· Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
· Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man’s Education
· Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
· The Bluest Eye
· The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
· The Confessions of Nat Turner
· And Still, I Rise
· They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group
· Eleanor & Park
· Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside the Rebirth of White Nationalism in America
· Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank)
· V for Vendetta
· Then Again, Maybe I Won’t
· The Perks of Being a Wallflower
· Y: The Last Man