The works of J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee, and John Steinbeck are recognized as classic literature masterpieces that have been read by young students across the nation. Books such as the Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, and many more have all been banned from schools at one point since being published (Top). The banning of books in schools is considered as censorship. There has been much controversy concerning the offensiveness of the profanity, racial comments, and sexual content these books are said to have. You would expect that readers nowadays be used to these types of elements in the books they read, but many school administrators still continue to censor specific books in hopes of keeping their students away from bad influences.
To Kill a Mockingbird, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and Huckleberry Finn have all been challenged since the 1970’s because of the racial comments made throughout the books. The Catcher in the Rye, The Diary of Anne Frank, and The Red Pony are just a few examples of books that have been challenged because the sexual content these books contain (Censored). If one were to read one of these books nowadays, it would be because a teacher had assigned the book to the student as a reading assignment.
Would a teacher demand his students to read the first one hundred pages of a book if they thought the book had vulgar language and disturbing sexual content in it? It is understandable why a school would forbid its students to read books with adult content in it in the early to mid 1900’s because of the sensitive subjects the authors were writing about. Racist language was offensive to all races. The sexual content exhibited by the author in his books was offensive to the people that consider that the sexuality of a person is to remain clean and pure. Now in the 21st century, sensitive subjects such as racism, sexuality and even profanity are the least bit of a readers worries. Our opinions on what should be censored in literature have changed since the 20th century.
The reasons for censorship in literature have expanded from racism and profanity to religion and witchcraft as the years have passed. Bless me, Ultima by Rodulfo Anaya, and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling have been banned because it is said that these modern books promote witchcraft, which is beyond offensive to many religions (Banned). In our current generation, all people worry about is how books will harm our religion and way of living. Racism and profanity is not much of a worry because most of our society has grown past racism and has grown used to the fact that profanity is something we encounter everyday.
So, why are some of the most popular classic novels still banned from some schools across the nation? It is believe that although our society has matured in the past century, schools still have some sort of policy which states that “books must be age appropriate and related to [the] school curriculum” (Coatney). Many schools believe that buy censoring literature they are preventing kids from being exposed to adult content, but in reality, what schools believe that specific books should be rated “R” are really rated “PG-13” to the minds of their students.
Although schools and parents support the idea of censoring books because of their adult content, they do not realize that rather than protecting them, they are keeping them away from what can be valuable lessons. Books such as To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn can contribute to the lesson that racism was never fair to begin with. By reading The Catcher in the Rye, the youth can learn that there is more to life than just violence and sex. Students can truly learn from the books that have been censored throughout these many years because “high school students are evolving and learning to formulate their own opinions in life”, regardless of the amount of vulgar language, sexual content, and violence that is in the books they choose to read (Censorship).
However, there should be limits to how much adult and offensive content there is in books. For example Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf is a book that encourages racism and violence while other books only promote the importance of goodness by exposing the bad. Books such as that are the type of books that can do some harm to the youth of our society. Also, there are some books in present day that should be censored because of their sexual content. Fifty Shades of Grey, written by E.L. James is, for example, too outspoken for the young readers of today. The sexual content in The Catcher in the Rye would be considered to be nothing compared to the work of E.L. James. Although every book cannot be kept away from each student, the books that are labeled as too explicit should at least be the ones to be banned from schools.
Censorship has played a large role in literature ever since authors have experimented with the types of stories they can create by using different types of adult content to get their lesson across. Many classic literatures that have been taught in schools for many years have been censored many times since the first time they were published, but people still find a way to make a positive lesson out of those books regardless of the content demonstrated by the author of the book. It is possible that one day books will not need to be censored because of how exposed our future generations will be due to what is exhibited out in the real world for everyday people to see.
“Banned & Challenged Books.” Good Reads. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2013.
“CENSORED BOOKS IN THE USA.” Bulletin 43 over Censored Books in the USA. Office for Intellectual Freedom, n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2013.
“Censorship: The Negative Effects Parents Don’t Know About.” Yahoo! Contributor Network. N.p., 11 May 2009. Web. 21 Jan. 2013.
Coatney, Sharon. “Banned Books: A School Librarian’s Perspective.” Time.com. N.p., 22 Sept. 2000. Web. 20 Jan. 2013.
“Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009.” American Library Association. N.p., n.d. Web.18 Jan. 2013.
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