OPINION | Censoring books limits imagination


Courtesy of Creative Commons

Book banning has become increasingly popular in communities, but can harm readers, writers and society. 

Understandably, some books have topics that are not appropriate for certain readers. However, allowing people to ban books because they disagree with their message isn’t fair. 

Books are an essential part of life. At an early age we are taught to read, which is a skill used throughout everyone’s lifetime. There are books based on historical context, fiction, non-fiction, action, mystery, romance, drama, life issues and other genres. 

People read books for different reasons, but a large reason being that books are an escape from reality. By reading books, people have the opportunity to learn different things, meet different people, gain new perspectives and enjoy adventures. Taking this away from people removes an outlet in their lives that can be a dependency for some. 

The beauty of books is that they are written for people by authors who have experienced different lifestyles. Not everyone likes the same topics and not all messages can resonate with all readers. By allowing some books to be banned, their messages are blocked from any reader with the potential to understand them. 

The world is a complex place. Certain authors write books that go into detail about themes encountered in the real world such as race, sexuality and other topics. These topics receive a great deal of attention in the public sphere, yet they are largely absent from classroom conversations among young readers.

Books such as “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, “Speak” by Laurie Halas Anderson, “1984” by George Orwell and the Bible are just a few books that are most commonly blocked. These books discuss racial issues, sexual assault, dystopian society and religious faith.

I have personally read all these books and can testify they do speak on topics some readers may be sensitive to or bluntly not agree with. But, I believe that they should not be shunned from our society. People encounter the themes discussed in these books daily in real life. 

These are the themes inside just four books. Imagine what other themes are being hidden from society via book banning.   

People have the ability to decide when something becomes overwhelming to read. It should not be someone else’s decision to stop readers from reading material. 

Readers read these books and use characters as guides to help themselves. Having these books banned limits people’s discovery of themselves and the world, which could have lifelong consequences. 

Unfortunately, it seems like parents and school systems are the ones most interested in banning books. Granted, parents have the right to be involved in their children’s life and learning processes, but to a certain extent. At some point, all people have to live their own lives

I think toward the end of high school, books do not need to be banned to protect readers. At this point, teenagers are trying to find themselves. This includes likes, dislikes, interests, political beliefs and sexual identity. Books can help people find these things. 

Additionally, if people are allowed to ban some books, what will stop them from banning all books? No one can agree on what’s appropriate and inappropriate, so it’s not fair to restrict some books based on a general audience perspective. 

Book bannings also affect writers. By books being banned, authors’ imagination and creativity are being limited and unjustifiably labeled. This can affect their future careers and cause their fandoms to dwindle. 

Because of this, authors may become demoralized. Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and it takes a lot of courage for writers to put their stories out there for the world to read. It is heartbreaking to be faced with rejection and criticism after being vulnerable. 

Books are beautiful and a vital part of our society. I believe some materials need to be carefully chosen based on the age group of readers, but I do not believe books should be banned or censored. It is not fair that authors and readers have to be limited based on others’ opinions.