Banned Books Week: Why Do We Ban Books?

I was going to do a piece on the representation of women in modern media, focusing on fictional texts, today however, after going on the Guardian newspaper website, I decided to do something about the concept of Banned Books instead. Not least because I have a feeling I will need to do a lot of research for the representation article.

I had never heard of Banned Books Week until last year but it was only this year have I actually looked into what the week was about. Though it is fairly obvious, Banned Books Week is the annual right to read celebration from the American Libraries Association. It celebrates the books that have been banned for various reasons.

For me, it has amused me finding out which books are banned and why. Some books which have been challenged, like the Captain Underpants books, are just laughable. Apparently the books are inappropriate for children of a certain age and due to the language. Other books, like E.L. James‘s 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, I can understand a bit more. I don’t think I need to go through the reasons why, though sadly none of the reasons are about the dismal writing.

Sex is a frequent reason as to why books are banned but I’m curious about why someone would want to ban a book in the first place. I agree with a quote by Isaac Asimov, an author, who said, “Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.” Now, I know there will be certain subjects and themes, like pedophilia and bestiality, that would raise objections and I understand them, but my question, why do we ban books?, comes from the fact that even in our modern age, books like And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, have been challenged due to its homosexual themes.

Now, if this had been a book released in the past, when homosexuality was viewed as anything but normal and even when it was a criminal offence, then yes, I could perhaps understand. But no, this book was released in a modern world, in countries which accept homosexuality. The book was inspired by 2 male penguins hatched and raised a chick in a New York Zoo.

Personally, I don’t understand why people would want to ban books, especially ones like the aforementioned book, especially when they are children’s books. Surely And Tango Makes Three would be a good way to introduce concepts like homosexuality to children. It is part of society and part life.

If we want to help people in general to become better people, to expand their horizons and create an even better society than what we have now, reading is a fantastic way to do it and books are brilliant ways of introducing these sorts of concepts and ideas.

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2 thoughts on “Banned Books Week: Why Do We Ban Books?

  1. I suppose it happens when a book trips over the values of society. Those change over generations and there was an incident here in New Zealand recently when a book banned fifty years ago turned up in a second hand bookshop. It was pretty innocuous by modern values but had never been removed from the banned list with the result that selling it was technically an offence. There was a brief public debate.

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    • I guess in our modern world, we are currently stuck in a tug and pull between Liberal and Conservative values so what’s seen as obscene by one group of people is seen as perfectly fine by the other.
      Also, that’s rather amusing about that book.

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