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  • Larissa Martin

Buy Banned Books: Why We Need to Oppose Book Bans

Recently, Florida banned more than 1,400 books in schools and libraries… simply because some people deem them “inappropriate.” Parents are even censoring these books on their own and drawing over the parts that they don’t want their children to see. But the practice of banning books is far from beneficial, and it actively harms both children and their parents. 

In recent years, book banning has come under a national spotlight, as many of the classic books that we grew up loving received book bans. During the 2022-2023 school year, Americans made 3,362 individual book bans that ban 1,157 titles. This represents a 33 percent increase in book banning from the 2021-22 school year. To make matters worse, a jaw-dropping 33 states initiated book bans, with Florida banning the most books

Sadly, so many children will no longer have access to these books in their schools and libraries.

Some of these books have racially diverse characters, gay or lesbian protagonists, or characters who identify as non-binary. Many children need these books because they rarely ever see characters with stories that look like their own. Now, these children are missing out on the opportunity to discover characters in similar life situations, and they may feel more alone. Other children may not have exposure to such diverse people in their lives, and these banned books would provide them with the first opportunity to challenge their biases.

Other banned books are “classics,” books we grew up reading and loving.

Now, the people banning them are the parents who read them when they were children or teenagers themselves. This feels ridiculous — why ban a book that probably didn’t mess you up? Some of these books have mature themes or cover nuanced topics. Still, when adults ban the books that they grew up on, they’re depriving children of the opportunity to learn about the realities of the world and develop new perspectives on important issues. And with so many of these bans affecting books that high school students typically read, this may leave few options for teachers who typically base their curriculum on challenging, nuanced books, books that many of us also read as high school students. 

The problem with book bans is that legislators, school boards, and individuals are turning harmless books into a political issue.

Children aren’t going to fall apart if they read age-appropriate books that expose the dark realities of slavery, the devastation of the Nazi regime, or the racism that still affects this country. The same goes for young children who listen to picture books about “nontraditional” families or children who want to change their gender. If anything, reading the books that some people say are too “woke” to teach in schools will help children and teens become more accepting of people who don’t share the same background or identity that they have. They’ll learn that respect for all people is more powerful than hatred for certain groups.

If the only books available to read are books that a small group of parents and legislators approve, children will end up in the unfair position of developing narrow, harmful mindsets that may take years to undo. Children deserve to read the books that interest them, whether those books involve science, drag queens, or major historical events. No one should take away the opportunity for children to discover a wide variety of books with diverse, interesting perspectives. To give children this chance, we need to depoliticize books and discourage book bans. 

Be a literary rebel. Buy banned books, and introduce your children to these important stories and authors of all types. Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton said it best: “Read the books they don’t want you to read. That is where the good stuff is.”

Featured Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash.


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