By Brittany Robertson
One would think that everyone in the world has read the Harry Potter series. The truth is that not even everyone in America has read Harry Potter, The Hunger Games or even The Fault in Our Stars, because these books and many more have been banned from school libraries.
“Banned books” are books that parents, and sometimes teachers, have deemed inappropriate for children to read. The American Library Association (ALA), dedicated the week of September 25 to October 1 to such books.
M.J. Aiken, the Secretary of the Secular Student Alliance, embraced Banned Books Week with a table at the Theron Montgomery Building. Here, members of SSA informed students about why they should take note of this week.
“It is a great cause,” Aiken said. “We are trying to spread the freedom of information and inform [students] that they should have equal access to books of all kinds. Authors should have a chance to share their stories without fear of censorship. Not everyone is going to love the same books, but that should not mean they should be censored from others.”
On average, thousands of books are challenged every year. Challenged books go on record as having a documented request to remove materials from schools or libraries. Being banned, however, is when the institution is forced to remove the book from its shelves.
“Being able to think and read what I want is important to me,” said, Jesse Michael, a member of SSA. “We [SSA] are in the minority a lot for the way we choose to think, but we think that spreading information is our way of saying that the majority is wrong. Banned Books Week is a great way of showing how censorship affects people and the authors.”
Common reasons for banning a book from school are the use of language, sexual content and inappropriateness for the age group. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is often banned because of an incestuous rape scene that results in a young black girl being impregnated by her father. Many parents immediately requested that their children not read the book because of this scene.
“My favorite banned book “would have to be The Awakening by Kate Chopin,” said Hannah Jackson, another SSA member. Before I had read it, I had this idea that I wanted to get married and be a stay-at-home mom. But, reading how miserable the main character was while living the life I had always dreamed of made me realize that maybe being a stay-at-home mom isn’t for me. It also made me realize that society expects me to marry and have children, and if I don’t then something must be wrong with me. The Awakening was a real eye opener for me.”
The ALA’s top ten most challenged books of 2015 were Looking for Alaska by John Green, Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, The Holy Bible, Fun House by Alison Bechdel, Habibi by Craig Thompson, Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeanette Winter, and Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan.
For more information on Banned Books Week, visit www.ala.org.