Banned Books: The Many Problems


We live in the supposed Land of the Free, yet our students are not free to read whatever they want. From 14-year old Anne Frank living in World War II to Jordan’s problems being black in a white school from New Kid, books that break the barriers of society’s old ways have comforted anyone who feels oppressed or just different from everyone else. In some schools, however, these books are not only discouraged but banned, preventing them from being in sight at school. 

This is removing the American right to free speech, and is censoring many voices that need to be heard. Some books that have been banned also are valuable perspective points that should be heard. Anne Frank and Maus are both about the Holocaust, New Kid is about the challenges of a black kid in a white school, The Bible shows Christian culture and backstory, and The Handmaid’s Tale is about a sexist dystopian world, where a woman has to fight for her freedom. Also among the list of most banned books, but rather inexplicably, is Captain Underpants. This book is not politically distinct in any way, it only has a bit of 3rd grade humor. You may have grown up reading a banned book, might have been encouraged to take all the words to heart. And Tango Makes Three, is a children’s book based on a true story of two penguins, Roy and Silo, who hatched a chick with an extra egg, Tango. It is likely banned for the homosexual penguin couple, with parents not wanting to introduce this to their children. 

Most of these banned books are banned for similar reasons, but with varying percentages. The biggest reason for book banning, according to the First Amendment Museum, is “sexual content” at 92.5% of all banned books being for that reason. 61.5% of books are banned because of the language used in the book, which is also censoring free speech. 49% of banned books were considered inappropriate considering the ages of the children in school. LGBTQIA+ content is the reason for 23.5% of banning, which is hard to believe given the views of our school, which are also very beneficial to its students. However, many school boards attempt to hide the reason behind the banning: for example, the reason listed behind And Tango Makes Three’s banning was that the book was “unsuitable for younger children.” Less than 20% of bans are because of racism, violence, drugs and other harmful things, books that are considered “anti-family”, and the supporting or mention of different political views. However, we need to be conscious of that to be able to improve and eliminate those aspects of America.

The last political view reason is especially concerning, seeing as even if the people do not agree with other’s views, it is not their place to censor people for their thoughts. All sides should be heard, and students should be taught the difference between moral and immoral views, not be sheltered from the ones that are considered wrong. Also, people might be censoring things that don’t need to be “bad” political views, and are simply opinions. Not only are these books being banned for ridiculous reasons, but book banning can also be considered a violation of the First Amendment, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This basically means that everyone has free speech to say, publish, or challenge what they want to. While people are allowed to challenge these books, banning them is a direct violation of free speech, and is therefore unconstitutional. Though this is not Congress passing these laws, these bans still limit the free speech of the writers and therefore should be seen as unconstitutional.

Is this the American dream people imagine and yearn for? How is this any different than the places that we read about and say we’re different from? The dictatorships and empires? Is this what America is now? An empty shell of what it is meant to be? People say America is better than other countries because it is truly free, yet we are not even free to read what we like in the educational facilities we are forced to spend ¼ of our day in. Is that truly freedom?


Works Cited

Maya Angelou – the most banned author in the US

Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books: 2010-2019 | Advocacy, Legislation & Issues

The Color Purple – Wikipedia

Top 10 Most Challenged Books Lists | Advocacy, Legislation & Issues

And Tango Makes Three (Classic Board Books)

How Do Books Get Banned? – First Amendment Museum

First Amendment | Resources | Constitution Annotated | | Library of Congress.