Rewriting the future

Consequences of banning books on our youth

With Banned Books Week only being acknowledged once a year, its vital that we recognize essential works of literature are constantly being diminished almost every day.

photo courtesy of American Library Association

With Banned Books Week only being acknowledged once a year, its vital that we recognize essential works of literature are constantly being diminished almost every day.

Quinn Burton, Editor-in-Chief

On Sept. 18-24, Banned Books Week was acknowledged by schools and libraries across the country to celebrate the freedom to read, in addition to spotlighting current and historical attempts to censor books. And with over 300 books being challenged just this year, it’s vital now more than ever to prevent books from being banned, because of their important themes of inclusivity and diversity. 

While book banning is nothing new, the American Library Association reports that in the past few years, nearly 500 book titles have been challenged for exclusion from schools and public libraries. A majority of the books that have been targeted nationwide focus on sexual orientation, gender identity, race and racism; despite the fact that they teach important lessons about our society relating to American literature. 

Novels such as “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Fahrenheit 451” and “Of Mice and Men” have been essential in my literature classes, though they have been challenged by nearly 10 states, due to their so-called negative effect on students. Despite the fact, these novels have been taught in the classroom for generations because of the important themes they teach. “To Kill a Mockingbird” educates students with essential information about matters relating to racial prejudice and human dignity through masterful storytelling. However many of these major life lessons have been diminished because of the growing mentality that parents believe these themes will harm their children and incite guilt. 

Parents and administrators play the most important role in the decision-making of what sources students have access to, hence why it’s discouraging to see them taking away our ability to read diverse and inclusive novels in the classroom. It seems almost as though these groups have made it their mission to undermine educators and sabotage students’ freedom to read just because they don’t like what they have to say. Parents are worried about their young children are being taught novels with graphic and mature scenes; however,  that’s not the case. Novels relating to these topics are essentially taught at the high school level, where most students have already been exposed to these topics. 

For students who haven’t been exposed to topics relating to racial prejudice and LGTBQ+ identities, novels that promote inclusivity are essential because they allow students to have access to information they may have never been exposed to before. And with the recent implementation of anti-LGTBQ+ bills in schools across the country, it’s become increasingly more difficult for students to have access to books that promote inclusive, diverse, and LGTBQ+ ideologies. For example, the Nebraska Golden Sower nominated novel “The List of Things That Will Not Change” was pulled from the competition due to its LGTBQ+ representation. 

The “Golden Sower Award” is Nebraska’s annual Children’s Choice book award. Each year, the Nebraska Golden Sower Committee nominates 10 books in three different categories for children to read. If students read at least four of the 10 books in a category, they qualify to vote for their favorite book. I still remember the joy and exhilaration of reading the golden sower books in elementary school, and the lingering anticipation to see if your favorite book would win the award. However, despite its years of success, the 2022 Golden Sower competition has sparked outrage amongst parents due to the prevalence of LGTBQ+ ideologies. 

The nomination, “The List of Things That Will Not Change” by Rebecca Stead follows the story of a young girl navigating her way through her father’s divorce; however the importance of the novel’s morals were completely undermined, due to the fact that the youngs girls father was gay. This book was a very important title to consider, especially for Nebraska children whose parents are in LGBTQ relationships and for those who deserve to see the different ways a family can look, but because of the conflicting beliefs of parents, the book was pulled from the competition, diminishing the accessibility for children to read the novel. 

Although there has yet to be a book challenge in the Millard Public Schools district, it’s vital we prevent it from happening. Literature isn’t necessarily meant to teach us a lesson, rather it helps us gain knowledge on topics that may have previously been beyond our reach, hence why it’s essential that everyone has access to every novel.  Plus, How do we want to shape the minds of future generations? It’s essential we prioritize inclusivity amongst children at a young age in order to promote societal harmony.