Are banned books worth reading?

John Seed, known as the Father, preaching to his followers. Photo Credit: Chloee Toro

By Zayalize Garcia `17

        As I walk the halls for the hundredth time to my sophomore class in high school, my former classical literature teacher Amanda Meyers decided to teach us a unit on banned books. Countless kids in class were surprised and confused. One child even asked the question that was on most kids’ minds, myself included,  “Won’t that get us into trouble, learning inapproperiate concepts?” However, I soon learned very well and excitingly that the books themselves were not indecent to read, but the contexts and ideas they share with young readers are. They tell a higher level of life experience such as drugs, sex, witchcraft, etc, which most young adults have yet to know or experience.  

     People will ask what are banned books? Well, A banned book is forbidden to be in schools, libraries, and bookstores because of its controversial content. “A book may be challenged or banned on political, religious, sexual, or social grounds.” Explained Esther Lombardi. However, others will say books are not controversial.

    Most books have been banned because people have either misunderstood the books’ contents or/and message that it provides the reader. Now the most important question is why should we read banned books? Well first, “Books teach us history in context. They teach us compassion. They teach us vocabulary, and social skills, and new ways of thinking” said Robin Beery. Of course the obvious reason being that reading is still one of the best ways to improve our intelligence. But also, books can teach us individually about ourselves and life experience.  For example “classics… confront the social, political, philosophical, and moral issues of their time… often demonstrating the kind of critical thinking that helps us to progress as a society and as individuals,” stated Robin Beery Many, if not all, banned books give us a different view on life, society, and ourselves. Banned books may also confront issues that we are dealing with today. Some banned books give accurate descriptions of reality that several people want to pretend do not exist.

       People will claim that what we learn from banned books is dangerous or meaningless. Some will claim  that “Each book that is banned or censored is done so for the content within the pages” such as “Racial Issues… Blasphemous Dialog… Sexual Situations or Dialog… Violence or Negativity” stated libguides.butler.edu, but, once again, these are issues that we face in our society. We will learn about them sooner or later. That is a given fact. Therefore, we need to learn beforehand about them in order to prepare us in life. We can’t pretend that they do not exist because the truth of the matter is that they do. That’s why it’s important to realize that being educated about these topics and subjects is safer than banning them and being unprepared later on in life because we were not educated on them.

     We need to understand the important messages and content that most if not all banned book give us. Therefore, supporting programs to stop books from being banned is a tremendous first step to educating yourself and others.