Banned Books Week

Sarah Ryan, News Editor

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Mark Twain, Margaret Mitchell, John Steinbeck, and hundreds of other talented authors have been silenced by censorship throughout the country. Banned Books Week is a national event that encourages people to celebrate their freedom to read what they choose. This celebration usually takes place during the last week of the month, and this year it began on September 25th. Banned Books Week is an important opportunity understand how literature has influenced our society, and an excellent way to find something new to read. The following recommendations are books that have been banned, or challenged, in schools nationwide.

 

Of Mice and Men

 

This classic was written by John Steinbeck during the 1930s, and has since been banned for racism, foul language, violence, and the glorification of euthanasia. Of Mice and Men follows two ranch workers, George and Lennie, as they struggle to find work and survive during the Great Depression. Despite the fact that they aren’t related, George serves as an older brother to Lennie, who is mentally handicapped and always is getting them into trouble. George does his best to look out for him, but easily becomes frustrated by the responsibility. This novella examines the challenges people faced during the 1930s and depicts the various systems of oppression.

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

 

Stephen Chbosky’s novel is a powerful story  that was adapted into a film in 2012. The narrative follows a teenage boy named Charlie as he navigates his high school years. It is never explicitly stated, but Charlie is extremely socially awkward and appears to have some sort of learning disability. His story shows the complexity of different characters and describes his struggle with grief, loneliness, and mental illness. The book has been banned in many different school systems because it contains sexual content, offensive language, and substance use.

 

The Giver

 

This dystopian fiction has been one of the most challenged books since its release in 1993. Lois Lowry’s novel features a twelve year old boy named Jonah who lives in a world without emotion. The society is controlled by a group of elders who essentially decide how everyone will live their lives. There is a strict set of laws that they are all required to conform to, and they have no say in their own futures. One person, the “Giver”,  is selected to remember all of the world’s history and all of the emotion that comes along with it. The Giver becomes Jonah’s mentor throughout the novel, and teaches him about the outside world. This novel has been banned for its religious and political controversy, as well as its sexually explicit content and references to suicide.

 

Looking For Alaska

 

John Green’s first novel was named the most challenged book of 2015. Looking For Alaska takes place at a boarding school in Alabama, where the main character, Miles “Pudge” Halter, falls hopelessly in love with Alaska Young. The novel is engineered to keep you in suspense, as it is arranged as days “before” and days “after,” instead of traditional chapters. This book has been banned on various occasions for sexual content, offensive language, and being generally unsuitable for teenagers.

 

The Diary of Anne Frank

 

Despite being the world’s second most popular book, it is also one of the most challenged publications in the country. The Diary of Anne Frank gives detailed accounts of her life as a young girl living in hiding, and is criticized for many of the situations it describes. Anne Frank’s diary is fascinating and appeals to millions of people with varying interests. It is not a typical account of the Holocaust, and rarely mentions the war at all. This book has been challenged in several school systems for sexual/homoseuxal content and inappropriate language.

 

Banned Books week is a fantastic opportunity to explore new genres and learn through literature. Remember that these are just a few examples of the powerful stories that have been silenced by censorship, and there are hundreds more that are always available to read.

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