Why We Must Read Banned Books

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“Bianca, you need to see this book. It has S-E-X in it.”

I don’t recall if those were the exact words whispered on the school bus, but it was my first encounter with banned books. Well, it wasn’t banned then, but it disappeared from the school library shelves once the librarian noticed the rather long reservation list. Meh, girls’ school, a small city. And I was 12 or 13 at the time, so Forever is a book that needs a little guidance at that age.

Since then I have ready many banned books. It’s a little unfair to call them banned books. Many banned books aren’t actually banned. It’s a glamorized title for books that have been protested in libraries through America. Sometimes the protest is valid, but most of the time it’s not. There’s a trend of people protesting older books describing activities normal for that time. *cough, cough* To Kill a Mocking Bird. Or someone personally offended by something not illegal or morally wrong, except by them. You may remember Laura Mallory’s fight to have the Harry Potter series removed from her children’s school. Despite never reading the books, and referencing fairytales to support her argument, she backed down from taking the fight to the federal courts. She threatened that after Superior Judge Ronnie Batchelor refused to overturn the school board’s decision on appeal.

So apart from 1970s teen sex angst (Forever by Judy Blume), what will you learn from reading Banned Books?

In summary, love, acceptance, understanding, and knowledge.

I grew up essentially in segregation (the White Australia policy had consequences), so The Hate U Give shows me a reality that many experience here in America, but I never will because of my skin tone.

If the idea of two women or two men makes you uncomfortable, then maybe you’ll see it as love, like any other couple, if it’s penguins. And Tango Makes Three is a true story of penguin love at New York’s Central Park Zoo.

Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past. Apart from the stories of apartheid and war, and racism, and sexism, and many other ideas based on a personal idea versus science, there’s also the way we treated people with disabilities. Of Mice and Men is challenged for many reasons, but it’s also an accurate view of American life in the 1930s. I’m thankful we’ve changed, and we treat people better, but we can’t shouldn’t hide the past because it doesn’t match current expectations.

I’m thankful science has progressed, and we know that transgender is as real as being left-handed. However, it’s also none of our business if a transgender person chooses to disclose or not. If you feel the need to read stories of transgendered people, Being Jazz is excellent. Oh, and because gender-based fashion is just a social construct that some people choose to take personally, here’s Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress.

Finally, we can experience lives in different countries and cultures, and even times with books, and that’s never wrong. The Kite Runner is a banned book about growing up in Afghanistan. It tells of caste systems and just discovering life. There’s a brutal scene, but that’s not why it gets challenged.

Here’s a full list of banned books. Which is your favorite?


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More about Bianca

Bianca's a nerdy, book worm who is constantly curious and appreciates being alive while the internet exists. During the day, she's a content writer for a tech company. The rest of the time she's reading, and running, and bike riding, and sipping coffee, and taking photos around Melbourne, Australia.

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