Voices of Webster: Editorial: Schools should not ban books

DeMargel_Banned Books
Angie Thomas’ “The Hate U Give,” one of the 10 most challenged books in 2020 according to The Washington Post, sits unrestricted on a shelf in the library. “I think as librarians, we believe in intellectual freedom of students and that it’s their right to have access to all perspectives,” librarian Liz Forderhase said. Photo by Maren DeMargel

“Harry Potter,” “The Great Gatsby,” “Captain Underpants,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” What do all of these books have in common? At some point, they have all been “banned.”

A banned book is a piece of literature that is not allowed to be read or distributed in libraries, schools or other specific places, often due to grievances made by concerned parents and community members.

While a parent has the right to limit the media their child is exposed to, books are meant to be read.

When books are banned, students are sheltered from the issues of the real world and limited in their freedom to learn and grow.

Studies show that reading and empathy are closely linked, revealing that people who read fiction often are more empathetic than those who don’t. Empathy is created by studying and accepting the unfamiliarities and differences of other people’s perspectives. This cannot be done if all accounts of differing perspectives are banned from the hands of adolescents.

According to NPR, at least four school districts in the St. Louis area have faced book banning in the past year. This list includes Rockwood, Frances Howell, Lindbergh, Wentzville, and more.

“A St. Louis Public Radio analysis of the books being challenged in the St. Louis area found two-thirds of them were written by authors of color or authors who identify as LGBTQ,” the NPR article reads.

“The increase in attempts to remove books compared to this time last year seems to represent an organized campaign targeting books that address both racism and LGBTQ themes, said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom,” the article said.

It is evident that this recent movement to ban books is motivated by fear. Parents want to do all they can to protect their children, and that is understandable, but when that protection involves stifling the voices of minority communities, it has gone too far. Books are written to be read. Let them be read.

This week’s ECHO Podcast is introduced, outro’d and edited by podcast editor Maren DeMargel and contributing writers Sam Klein and Hadley Hoskins.

Contributing writers Sam Klein and Hadley Hoskins report about the issue of banning books.

Intro music from https://filmmusic.io
Beauty Flow” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)
License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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