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Banning books in classrooms is becoming a huge controversy in America today. Banning books refers to books being disallowed from being taught in school curriculums. There is a long history of banning books in classrooms, although the reasons have changed overtime due to changes in society. However, books are usually banned due to their content making people uncomfortable. My major is Early Childhood Education, so I think it is important for me to stay up to date with what is currently occurring in classrooms.
In this paper, I am going to research why books are banned and also look into examples of banned books. I will also research the negative effects of banning books and whether or not banning books places a limitation on education. With all this in mind, there is one question I ultimately hope to answer: should books be banned in schools?
Firstly, I want to address what qualifies a book to be banned, knowing what qualifies a book to be banned is crucial in determining whether books should be banned to begin with.
Books are banned for a variety of reasons, however these all relate back to the content of the book itself. In the article “7 Reasons Your Favorite Books Were Banned” by Maddie Crum, a few of the reasons books are banned are listed. These reasons include offensive language, sexual content, violence, religion, and homosexuality (Crum). This source is useful as it helps make sense of why books are banned, and what kind of content they are removing from classrooms.
I now know the topics for which books are banned however why are these topics banned to begin with? In “Banned and Challenged Books” from the American Library Association (ALA), the reasons behind banning books is explained. This excerpt from the ALA elaborates on why books are banned, “Books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information” (ALA).
From this source, I have gathered that books are usually banned with the children’s best interest in mind. Therefore, I can acknowledge books containing subject matter relating to the previously mentioned reasons like religion or violence, are often banned to protect children. What qualifies a book to be banned from a school curriculum and why they are banned would have to be considered when trying to answer if books should be banned. I now want to research these qualifications being applied to specific examples of books. While the reasons for books being banned varies, so does the genre of the books themselves. I wanted to list examples of banned books so that way I can see the differences between them and the reasons they were removed.
The article “The Banning of Harry Potter” by Deji Olukotun, discusses the banning of the popular children’s book series Harry Potter. The book is banned due to religious reasons, as people have made comparisons between the title character, Harry Potter, and Jesus Christ (Olukotun). From this, I have learned that even a children’s book like Harry Potter, could be subject to removal. Although, Harry Potter is mild when comparing it to other books that have been banned. Moving along from children’s books, another completely different type of book was banned, To Kill a Mockingbird. The article “Why ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Keeps Getting Banned” by Becky Little, goes into more detail about the banning of the classic To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The book takes place in Alabama in the 1960’s where white lawyer represents a black man against a rape he was accused of by a white woman (Little). This book mainly deals with racial issues that took place in the time period and also utilizes strong language. While Harry Potter was banned due to religious reasons, on a completely different spectrum, To Kill a Mockingbird was banned for racial discussions and offensive language.
Although they contain completely different subject matter, they were both banned. These two books show the wide array of books that could be subject to removal. When approaching the question of whether or not books should be banned, I would note these two books and how different they are. In terms of subject matter, To Kill a Mockingbird and Harry Potter, have no similarities. However, by banning both, they are being put on the same level. I have learned more about why books are banned and examples of these, I now want to research the negative effects of banning books.
There could be several negative effects on disallowing books in school curriculums. I want to research if the negative effects of banning books outweigh the positive effects, as this would impact the decision to ban books in schools. While schools think they are protecting children from harmful topics, they can be causing harm by removing books with these topics. In the article “How Banning Books Marginalizes Children” by Paul Ringel, the negative effects of banning books are discussed. The following excerpt mentions how children are negatively impacted by the removal of books “The history of children’s book publishing in America offers insight into the ways in which traditional attitudes about “appropriate” stories often end up marginalizing the lives and experiences of many young readers, rather than protecting them.” (Ringel).
From this I have gathered that instead of protecting children by banning books you could end up making them feel insignificant, this would support the argument of books not being banned in schools. Another article “Banned” Books Study has Surprising Results” from Stetson University, the positive effects of reading banned books are mentioned. Among these positive effects would be, banned books being associated with students contributing positively to society and also having a lower risk of developing antisocial behavior (Stetson). From these two articles, I have learned both the negative effects of banning books and also the positive effects that come with reading them. These sources also contribute to my research question of whether or not books should be banned, given the effects I would say that books should not be removed from school curriculums.
This also relates to my next question of if banning books places a limitation on education. There are many negative effects of banning books, so I want to know if this places a limitation of students’ education. Relating back to my main question of whether or not books should be banned, if banning books places a limit on education then the answer would be impacted by this. I want to focus less on academic education and more on students’ developmental education. In the source “The First Amendment in Schools: Censorship” from the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), the consequences of censorship, specifically, banning books is discussed. In this extract, it is mentioned what would happen if schools banned everything they found controversial, “If these and other individual preferences were legitimate criteria for censoring materials used in school, the curriculum would narrow to including only the least controversial and probably least relevant material. It would hardly address students’ real concerns, satisfy their curiosity, or prepare them for life.” (NCAC).
By removing books, schools are taking away students’ opportunity to learn about the world as it is. This places a limitation on their education as it does not prepare for life after school. Another article “5 Reasons to Encourage Your Kid to Read Banned Books” by Regan McMahon, the reasons children should read banned books are mentioned. Reasons such as reading a book helps students with their own life experiences they may be going through and they help students identify their own values (McMahon). Through these two sources, I can infer that banning books impacts students’ ability to learn about themselves and the what the world is like outside of school. Banning books has more of a negative impact on students than a positive one, when relating back to whether or not books should be banned, this should be taken in to consideration. Banning books is a prevalent topic today, with more books being banned each school year. Researching this paper, I have learned the reasons for which a book is banned and also the perspective of people banning the books.
In this, I mentioned two examples of banned books, as a glimpse into the range of books that are banned. I have also researched whether or not this can place a limitation on student’s education. I personally would be against the banning of books as I think there are several negative impacts. Books should not be withheld from students, because they usually contain valuable lessons and teach students to be more tolerant of certain subjects. As I develop my research question, I will add more sources dealing with the detrimental effects of removing books from schools.
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