Banned for inappropriate content

Emma Bartlett | Herald Contributor 

Most kids remember reading “The Giving Tree” or “Charlotte’s Web” while growing up. Those childhood classics fostered imagination and taught kids to love reading. Surprisingly, both those books have caused an uproar of controversy over time and have been banned in certain towns throughout the nation. Book banning is not uncommon, yet, there is not a lot of attention brought to the subject. The American Library Association (ALA) decided to change this and in 1982, they established Banned Books Week to raise the public’s awareness to the censorship of books. This program runs every year during the last week of September.

The library at RWU participated in the event by displaying a plethora of banned books in one of the exhibit cases on the library’s first floor. The arrangement included “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Giving Tree,” the Harry Potter series and had posters supporting the right to read. One of the most shocking examples in the display was “Winnie the Pooh” which was banned in China because of the comparison between Pooh and Chinese President, Xi Jinping.

Now, most reasons for banning books seem obscure. For instance, “Charlotte’s Web” was banned in a town in Kansas because the community thought talking animals was the work of the devil. Parents claimed that since God gave humans the ability to talk and not animals, writing a story that gave animals human abilities was disrespectful to God. The Harry Potter series was banned from a Catholic school in Massachusetts because the pastor thought the sorcery plot line was inappropriate and went against their school’s values. “Harriet the Spy” was banned from other schools because teachers argued it taught kids bad behaviors such as lying, talking back and spying.

Since ALA’s creation, 11,300 books have been challenged and banned due to sexual content, offensive language, LGBTQ content and inappropriate subjects for minors. It is understandable that parents and teachers wish to limit the amount of profanity and edgy material that their children encounter, but that information will always be out there — they will be exposed to it at some point in their lives. It is important to remember that we all have the freedom to read what we like thanks to the Constitution’s First Amendment and Banned Books Week is a reminder of that.