I believe banned books should be shown to children to educate them about censorship and themes that are seen as inappropriate to certain demographics. However, in opposition, some may think these topics are unsuitable to be observed by young people. If these themes are explained to children, it could inform them about the viewpoint of groups who believe in censoring, and grant them an awareness of a story that may benefit them before they read. Therefore, books that are banned should be shown to students to increase their awareness of censorship; they can teach kids about literature, and why some themes in books are seen as inappropriate.
A number of people may believe books such as Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer should never be taught to students. However, a teen’s article on a website called Teen Ink discusses why Huckleberry Finn should be taught from a student’s perspective. The book can be an educational experience because of its highlights on America’s history of racism. They state that Huckleberry Finn should be taught because “it was a stepping stone in American literature.” Furthermore, the author says, “The fact that one derogatory term is used in it does not make it a bad novel … it is about freedom and the pursuit of happiness."
Parents may think reading racist terms or inappropriate language from a book might persuade a student or cause uneasiness in the classroom. Conversely, Nora Wise, a teacher from Woodbury High School says the N-word out loud. In fact she says, "It makes sense in this novel to teach it with the controversy. It makes sense to bring up all of the hard emotions. They come with it. It's not just a classic book. It's not just the way the words are written, it's the ideas.” In addition, three 11th graders named Melvin Efesoa, Joseph Jaurdio and Ryan Farrell feel the word is used to grab the attention of readers; it is used to make the reader experience the reality of America’s history of racism.
Banned books, ranging from Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird and assorted Judy Blume books can be used as a conversation point with students. Donna Decker, a professor who teaches about banned books at Franklin Pierce University, states it’s critical for others to understand multiple viewpoints. If we only study what we agree with, “our world becomes smaller." The teacher believes students should be able to enjoy these books, with the intention of inducing discussions with the class about controversial writing.
Condemning books from schools prevents students from observing the perspective of others. If certain ideas are banned because they are seen as unorthodox, the world wouldn’t learn from these writings. The American Library Association’s website makes an excellent point on the risk of excluding books:
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.
Banned books can be used to teach students ethics, the blunders of the past, and the mindset of former generations. If books like Mark Twain’s and Harper Lee’s are not shown to children, it only hides the veracity of world history. As President Lincoln said, “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”
Do you think books involving controversial topics should be banned? Do you agree/disagree that children can learn valuable lessons from some/all books that are banned?
ALA Contributer(s). "Banned & Challenged Books." Banned & Challenged Books. American Library Association, 2015. Web. 05 Apr. 2015.
BrainyQuote Contributor. "Abraham Lincoln Quote." BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2015.
"Huckleberry Finn" and the N-word Debate." CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 12 June 2011. Web. 04 Apr. 2015.
Svokos, Alexandra. "Teaching Banned Books During Banned Books Week." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 22 Sept. 2014. Web. 05 Apr. 2015.
Whoppa. "Should Huck Finn Be Taught in American Literature Classes?" Should Huck Finn Be Taught in American Literature Classes? Teen Ink, 13 Jan. 2011. Web. 04 Apr. 2015.
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