Don’t Restrict Your Reading! Celebrate Banned Books Week!

Written by Trent Brager

“They don’t gotta burn the books, they just remove ‘em” – Rage Against the Machine

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

Whatever you do, don’t read these books: The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, 1984, To Kill a Mockingbird, or The Lord of the Flies. Throughout the 20th Century, these books have been removed or challenged in schools, bookstores, or libraries for reasons such as sexual references, racism, obscenity, and profanity.

Wait, scratch that. These are books you should read. Why? Because you can! Every year, the American Library Association (ALA) “celebrates the freedom to read” during Banned Books Week at the end of September. It serves as a reminder that censorship issues still exist to this day.

Across the country, books are banned, removed from libraries or schools, or challenged, meaning they are attempted to be removed based on a person or group’s objections. Taking these books off of library shelves or out of the hands of children threatens the freedoms of speech and choice that we have in this country. Over 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the ALA. Even today, many classics and new books are being banned or challenged in schools and libraries.

In 2014 alone, 311 books were challenged. Among them are several that you might know: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Persepolis, And Tango Makes Three, The Kite Runner, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

According to newly-minted online librarian, Trent Brager, “It’s important that students know that banning books isn’t something that only happened years ago. Some of our favorite books have been banned or challenged in recent years. Imagine not being able to read Harry Potter or James and the Giant Peach as a kid.” Brager continues, “I remember reading 1984 and how much it made me want to read more. Just because someone has an issue with a book doesn’t mean that they should take that book away from other people, but that’s exactly what book banning does.”

Brager encourages students to honor their freedom to read during Banned Books Week, September 27 to October 3. By reading banned books during this week, students can bring awareness to the importance of free and open access to information.