Banned book week

From Sept. 22-28, libraries celebrate banned books by pointing out the censorship in our schools.

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Banned book week

Banned Book Week display in the Iowa City West High library.

Banned Book Week display in the Iowa City West High library.

Paras Bassuk

Banned Book Week display in the Iowa City West High library.

Paras Bassuk

Paras Bassuk

Banned Book Week display in the Iowa City West High library.

The library here at West High is celebrating banned or challenged books by putting up a display with various books that have been banned. This list includes books such as “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “A Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher, and “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou, which have all been challenged in Iowa, for including topics such as sex, homosexuality, swear words, or mentions of suicide or drug use. Luckily, none of them have been banned in Iowa. 

That time is critical for showing students many different viewpoints and from different authors, even if not everything is completely conforming to the opinions of parents, guardians or others.

— Renee Gould '22

The reasons some of these books are being banned is clearly political and religious. ‘Politics’ is actually listed as a reason a book can be banned. For example, books can be banned for being anti-police, LGBTQIA+ content, premarital sex, profane language, drug use, and many smaller categories though those are the main ones. 

I just have to ask though, why in the world are people pushing so hard to ban these books? Sure, I understand that some of these absolutely need trigger warnings, especially in the cases of rape, sexual assault, or profanity. However, trying to go so far as to completely ban these books feels totally unreasonable. I’m not fighting for all books to be in libraries or in schools, as there are books that are wrong to have in schools, however, after we’re in high school or even junior high school, shouldn’t we have the freedom to make choices about what books we want to read? 

Elementary school is a whole different thing. There are, of course, children who should not have access to inappropriate books, especially when talking about violence. However, at the higher end of the spectrum, there are students who are just starting to have their views about the world around them. That time is critical for showing students many different viewpoints and from different authors, even if not everything is completely conforming to the opinions of parents, guardians or others.

So we just thought that we wanted to do something somewhat memorable to kind of highlight the fact that, you know, there are books that people try to keep other people from having access to.”

— Jill Hofmockel

We live in a world with many different types of people, and by banning these books we are also banning the voices in them. The voices of people facing racism, sexism, homophobia, violence, suicide or mental illness are all being smothered. Of course, we all just want to protect young children, but banning these voices can keep children extremely isolated. 

With the issue of profanity, I have often heard that there is no real use for it and that there are other words that work just as well. I disagree greatly with this idea. Yes, we should not be using profanity everywhere and it can be bad for younger kids to hear it. However, profanity does have a place in language and writing. In writing, it is often used to showcase something about the person talking, thinking, or society as a whole. As well, in language it should be used to show extremely strong emotion. 

Banned book week is actually a national event that is sponsored by the American Library Association.

“It’s [banned book week], something that libraries and the literature community give strong attention to this week, all over the country. So we just thought that we wanted to do something somewhat memorable to kind of highlight the fact that, you know, there are books that people try to keep other people from having access to.” said Jill Hofmockel, Iowa City West High library.

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