Students suffer when books are judged, banned


It’s all too familiar. One person disagrees with the supposed message of a book and then that person convinces someone else that he or she should also be upset about the book. And then, people who haven’t even read the book jump on the book-banning brigade.

Books have served as a point of contention and controversy for centuries, but with all the new forms of media, even the slightest buzz can create pandemonium among the community. This has become especially evident in the school system as parents catch wind of the books being taught in the school.

Classics that have been taught for centuries, as well as new literature, become taboo overnight because they might, but not definitely, upset or offend a student. There should certainly be efforts to be sensitive to the type of material being taught in school since it should be age-appropriate. But when parents are unsure of how a book will affect a child, shouldn’t we be able to calmly and rationally discuss it? And is it too much to ask that instead of sidestepping objectionable material, we teach students how to deal with the emotions and feelings a book might dredge up?

It is easy to understand why parents would want to protect their children from an offensive word or storyline, but that is not how the “real world” operates. There will be foul language and ugly situations. Books have the power to let students process and discuss these circumstances in an environment where, hopefully, they feel safe.

It seems that one of the biggest protests against books is their ability to spark controversy, but by making the book forbidden, it creates an even bigger storm. Not only that, it sensationalizes the one, sometimes minor, part of the book.

Illustration by BARB KOLB

Students are missing out on great pieces of literature because of snapshot judgments.

Books have the power to expose readers to new ideas and expressions, as well as take them to mystical lands and on epic journeys. They can evoke powerful emotions when the reader can relate to characters in the book. They can make a reader cry, laugh and escape from reality.

Instead of being afraid of these books, why not embrace their messages and teach our children how to deal with them? That way when they are out of school and in the “real world,” they are equipped to make intelligent choices about what they read and decipher what to do with the information.

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