Osaka YMCA
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books
Eleanor Duggan

Eleanor Duggan

Ms. Duggan is the OYIS Teacher-Librarian.

To support our banned book authors and to advocate intellectual freedom, we need to “educate our loved ones about censorship and how it harms communities'.

Censorship & Book Banning

Reading has proven to have various benefits, such as brain connectivity improvements, vocabulary and comprehension advancement, empathy towards other people, and many other health benefits (“Benefits of Reading Books”). People said a cat has nine lives, but I say a reader has a thousand lives. For each book our child reads, s/he lives a different life and gains a different perspective. It is a blessing that books open up so many possibilities and pathways.

Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates the beauty books bring to our lives or the rare experiences when our hearts are touched by the author’s words that keep us thinking, pondering and wondering. For some people, books, including many of our children’s favourite titles and award winners, are seen as a dangerous weapon and should not be read, such as Matilda by Roald Dahl (for its depiction of adults being abusive and neglectful), Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (for puberty topics and anti-Christian), The Captain Underpants books by Dav Pilkey (for its crude humour), The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (for depicting occult rituals), Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (for promoting witchcraft), George by Alex Gino (for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint), Charlotte’s Web by EB White (for talking animals), Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (for realistic depiction of various teen struggles, such as depression, drug use, bullying, sexual assault, and consent), and the most recent member of the Banned Book Club: Maus by Art Spiegelman (for being an inappropriate Holocaust education material).

According to American Library Association (2016), the top 3 reasons books were challenged or banned are:

  1. the material was considered to be “sexually explicit”
  2. the material contained “offensive language”
  3. the materials was “unsuited to any age group”
Maus Book Cover
“The Complete Maus” by Art Spiegelman, a Pulitzer Prize winner
Censorship and Banning Infographic
“Censorship by the Numbers”
LGBTQ content, racism, violence, religious viewpoint, suicide, drug and alchol use, and nudity are among other reasons books are removed from the shelves. Book banning has a long history across human civilisations from China when the Emperor of Qin burned books and buried scholars, to the Roman Catholic Church’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum, to the most recent Harry Potter and Maus (“Bannings and Burnings in History”). Andrew Karre (2022), the executive editor at Dutton Books for Young Readers, described book banning as weather change: we know it happens from time to time, but it will pass eventually. However, what we are facing now is a climate change “that’s impacting education and libraries”. When people challenge certain books and ask them to be removed from Libraries or from the curriculum, we are deprofessionalizing our teachers and Librarians. Furthermore, we are also sending a message to under-represented and marginalised students that “their experiences are not acceptable and others need to be protected from them” (School Library Journal). Instead, we should all cheer for our educators for selecting these books to teach our children and to help them “make sense of a complicated, frightening history” (Robinson) or to contextualise difficult topics.
“New Kid” by Jerry Craft, a Newbery Medal winner

It’s a relief that, according to a poll by American Library Association, 71% of people are not in favour of book bans (American Library Magazine) and “what we are hearing from is a very vocal minority” (ABC News). Regan McMahon, an author, journalist, and former book editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, points out that “reading banned books offers families a chance to celebrate reading and promotes open access to ideas” (2019). Corneal, a writer, suggests that banned books prepare children for real life challenges and broaden their thinking. To support our banned book authors and to advocate intellectual freedom, we need to “educate our loved ones about censorship and how it harms communities’ ‘ (Morehart) and show it by reading banned books. Here is a list of banned books your child should read suggested by The New York Times (and are available in our OYIS Libraries):

  • It’s Perfect Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health by Robie Harris
  • Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
  • Are you There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  • I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
Ms Eleanor reading a banned book
Top 10 Censored or Banned Books
“Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021"

Bibliography

10 Reasons Books Are Challenged and Banned | Banned Books Week. https://bannedbooksweek.org/10-reasons-books-are-challenged-and-banned/. Accessed 25 Apr. 2022.
“Bannings and Burnings in History.” Freedom to Read, https://www.freedomtoread.ca/resources/bannings-and-burnings-in-history/. Accessed 26 Apr. 2022.
“Benefits of Reading Books: For Your Physical and Mental Health.” Healthline, 15 Oct. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-reading-books.
EDIAZ. “Banned Book FAQ.” Advocacy, Legislation & Issues, 25 Oct. 2016, https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/banned-books-qa.
Magnusson, Tasslyn. Censored Authors Speak 2022, April 6 2022, Online, https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=658855765340755
Morehart, Phil. “This Week in Book Censorship News.” I Love Libraries, 31 Mar. 2022, https://ilovelibraries.org/article/this-week-in-book-censorship-news-2/.
“New ALA Poll Shows Voters Oppose Book Bans.” American Libraries Magazine, https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/new-ala-poll-shows-voters-oppose-book-bans/. Accessed 26 Apr. 2022.
News, A. B. C. “The Librarians Uniting to Battle School Book Ban Laws.” ABC News, https://goodmorningamerica.com/news/story/librarians-uniting-battle-school-book-ban-laws-83678096. Accessed 6 Apr. 2022.
“Opinion: Book Bans Are about Winning Elections, Not Protecting Children.” Austin American-Statesman, https://www.statesman.com/story/opinion/2022/03/27/opinion-book-bans-winning-elections-not-protecting-children/7077061001/. Accessed 6 Apr. 2022.
Solomon 0, Dan. “Texas Schools Shouldn’t Ban ‘Maus,’ They Should Teach It.” Texas Monthly, 1 Apr. 2022, https://www.texasmonthly.com/arts-entertainment/dont-ban-maus-teach-it/.
Staff, S. L. J. “NCAC Launches Book Challenge Crisis Hotline and Censorship Database | News Bites.” School Library Journal, https://www.slj.com/story/NCAC-launches-book-challenge-crisis-hotline-and-censorship-database-news-bites. Accessed 6 Apr. 2022.
Yorio, Kara. “‘Gender Queer’ Tops Most Challenged Books List of 2021.” School Library Journal, https://www.slj.com/story/gender-queer-tops-most-challenged-books-of-2021. Accessed 6 Apr. 2022.

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