The Student News Site of Los Osos High School

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

Leave Books Alone!

PC: @bookleish_ on Instagram

According to the American Library Association (ALA), there were 1,269 demands to censor and challenge books in 2022, a highly significant change from previous years. These challenges are usually made by parents or administrations at school, library, and even government levels. 

The majority of these demands were because these books include sexual content (mentions of teen pregnancy, sexual assault, and abortion), address race and racism, or have mentions of LGBTQ+ characters. 

The list of banned books only grows each year, but some of them include ones we read here at Los Osos. “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson was challenged because it was “biased against male students” and had the inclusion of “rape and profanity”. 

“I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing” by Maya Angelou was challenged for its “unguarded depiction of rape and sexual abuse” and her description of topics such as racism.  

Sophomore Jaydon Dye said, “We read ‘Dear Martin’ in English and it was such a good book… It aggravates me that it’s getting challenged because it discusses things like racial injustice. That actually happens in real life and needs to be talked about.” 

Even children’s books have been banned. “A Wrinkle In Time” by Madeleine L’Engle was banned for contrasting opinions, saying it had “too much religion”, it was too “against religion”, and also it did not “have enough religion”.  

Several negative effects come with the banning of books. 

It not only affects previously made teaching curriculums but also further restricts the representation and exposure to other identities and cultures that may differ from one’s own. It ultimately restricts the knowledge that a student can have of reality and forces them to view the world in only one way when in actuality, the world is diverse. 

English teacher Mrs. Cooper said, “In general, books should not be banned. Traumatic situations in books can be triggering, so letting students know ahead of the reading can help them by not catching them off-guard.” 

And this is completely valid. Many books that deal with heavy topics have trigger warnings online, and some even have them inscribed at the beginning of the book. It’s up to the person on how they handle themself.  

“It’s not a good thing at all. Any media or literature that expresses anything is important, even if it’s negative,” Senior Zeno Corfee said. “In most cases, people look for things they want to find, and in a book, the more against it a person is, the more things they’ll find in it that they think is wrong.” 

Another reason for my anger at books being challenged comes from the fact that a lot of these books are memoirs, such as “Speak” and “I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing”. 

A memoir, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, is “a narrative composed from personal experience.” This essentially means that by challenging these books, people are invalidating someone’s actual life experiences. For instance, “Speak”, while fictional, is still a recount of Anderson’s own experiences with sexual assault. 

It’s understandable to want to shelter a child, but it doesn’t mean that you have to completely eliminate the opposite opinion. By not exposing your child to things that you deem to be “wrong”, it only makes society more ignorant of the prominent topics that plague the world. 

To help support the cause of unbanning books, you can search for multiple petitions online to sign, write letters to editors and librarians, or simply stay informed. Continue to support authors by checking out their banned books and reading them and opening up the floor for discussion. 

“As a trans person, if I had access to books that weren’t banned, it would’ve helped me a lot more in my journey of coming out,” Corfee said. 

Banning books censors education for everyone and takes away knowledge and experiences that we can all learn from.

Donate to The Grizzly Gazette

Your donation will support the student journalists of Los Osos High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The Grizzly Gazette