We Need to Stop Banning Books


Sarah Conroy, Writer, Web Manager

From the minute we start school we are encouraged to read in seemingly a million different ways. When we are little we have to read aloud, when we get a little older we have contests and challenges where we are prized for how much we read, and it seems like everyone has a post on Instagram about a book that changed their lives. These are all great ways to encourage kids and adults to pick up a healthy hobby.

We can all agree that reading is a good thing, so it is surprising how many books could appeal to large groups of people who are challenged or just outright banned. Every year the American Library Association has a list of frequently challenged books published and it contains some shocking entries. They publish lists of challenged Children’s Books, Young Adult Books, and Classics, along with the lists of the most banned books from each year and decade. 

Understandably, some censorship is important so children aren’t exposed to something that would cause them distress, but according to psychologists letting teenagers read books that contain sex or violence wouldn’t cause much harm. This point is argued by psychologist Christopher Ferguson who said, “it’s so remarkable that you don’t want to be a roadblock. People’s fear of fictional media is greater than the actual threat, and parents often worry that kids will read and imitate, but I don’t think there is any good evidence for that.”

 However this stance isn’t unique to psychologists, one Washington Post writer and parent of a thirteen-year-old says, “I remember being a young teen, skulking in my sister’s walk-in closet and reading Judy Blume’s ‘Forever . . .’ and ‘Tiger Eyes,’ thinking I wasn’t supposed to read them but doing so anyway. I definitely didn’t ask permission.”  The article goes on to describe parents allowing their children to read books such as Looking For Alaska and It if they agreed to talk to their children about the content of the books.

Psychologists and parents agree that allowing kids and teens to read what they want is beneficial, so why are books still banned and challenged? Well, if you look at the most common banned books, you will see that they don’t seem to be extremely violent or sexual. In fact, the top five all have to do with prejudice and incidents that pertain to a specific group of people. The reasons stated are usually because the books go against religious views or are deemed to be against men or straight and white people because they tell a story about the challenges specific to women, the LGBTQ community, or people of color. 

The majority of banned books feature an LGBTQ person or person of color as the main character and aren’t as violent, sexual, or profane as ones with straight white main characters. We hear stories about older books being banned for using discriminatory language or themes but it seems like we rarely, if ever, hear about the many more banned books that have diverse characters and stories. In conclusion, Banning books is an outdated harmful process that stops people from hearing meaningful stories and reading as a hobby and needs to be stopped.