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Katherine Lee

What Do You Think About School Book Bans?

By September 21, 2009

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How do you feel about school book bans? I was in the book store the other day with my son, perusing the shelf of Newberry Medal-winning books, and saw a novel called The Higher Power of Lucky. I recalled that there had been some controversy over the book, and decided to go home and do a bit of research to see why it had been banned in some schools before I bought it for my child.

When I looked into it, I discovered that the controversy had been over a word: scrotum. That one word, which apparently appears early in the book, is what fired up some parents’ and school librarians’ objections, and prompted them to ask their elementary schools to ban the book.

On the one hand, I can see why parents would want to have some say over which books are taught to their children in school. On the other, there is the question of whether such objections should lead to a school or school district banning a particular book from being made available to children whose parents may not object to that book. It’s the old sensible caution or censorship conundrum.

School book bans have affected books ranging from the enormously popular Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer to critically-acclaimed works such as Huckleberry Finn and the Newberry Medal-winner The Higher Power of Lucky.

I, for one, do not think that I can prevent my son from being exposed to ideas that I may not like. Would I be okay if my 8-year-old’s school started playing profanity-laden songs in the classroom? Of course not. But banning a book from the school library shelf that has the word “scrotum” in it, just based upon the word alone? Absolutely not. And the idea of a book ban makes me uncomfortable. After all, one of the foundations of our country is freedom of speech, isn’t it?

September 21, 2009 at 3:44 pm
(1) Carol says:

I would rather have my child from day one learn the name/parts of the body correctly. Are we going back to the idea babies comes from storks?


September 21, 2009 at 11:01 pm
(2) Monica says:

Funny how they ban this book and many other well written books, but are open to books which promote the homosexual lifestyle/family! This is an indication that we are headed in the very wrong direction as a country.

September 22, 2009 at 11:07 am
(3) Leena says:

The number one best way to get a child or teen to read a particular book is to ban it. So I’m all for banning books.

September 23, 2009 at 6:15 am
(4) Amy says:

The biggest disagreement I have over book bans is knowledge. Children have a right to knowledge. Even if parents feels that their children are to young for that knowledge. The next biggest argument I have is banning a book will NOT prevent a child from reading that book. My grandmother banned my mom from reading books that she considered racy. That didn’t stop my mom though. She just checked the books out from the library in secret. To this day my grandma still doesn’t know the truth. My cousin’s parents banned her from the Harry Potter books. That did not stop her. She borrowed them from her friends. If you want your kids to read books in secret then go ahead. BAN them, but that will not stop them from reading the books that you consider ‘bad’. Our country was founded on the basis of free speech and our youth should not have to read in secret. Furthermore, I would rather know that my child is reading a book, and asking questions about it to me, than to say his or her peers who may or may not understand the book’s message.

September 24, 2009 at 8:53 am
(5) Hall Monitor says:

With the rise of the digital age, it’s only a matter of time until there won’t be any books at all in schools. Everything will be online.

Hall Monitor

May 10, 2011 at 9:42 am
(6) Paul says:

They should not be banned. Im a homosexual.

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