Friday, August 05, 2011

Banned Books

I thought during this school year, I would use a post or two to talk about books that have been removed from classrooms, school or public libraries due to complaints. The library is one of the greatest places to execute your freedom of speech as protected by the First Amendment. Freedom of Speech is not just about what you say--it's about what you are allowed to read.

Last year in Missouri a man took a complaint of three books (Speak, Twenty Boy Summer, and Slaughterhouse Five) to the Republic, Missouri school district. This summer the school district has decided to remove Twenty Boy Summer and Slaughterhouse Five. If you'd like more information, here's an article about the decision with quotes from the author of Twenty Boy Summer. If you do a Google search you will find many more articles as well.

The saddest part of this story to me is that if no one stands up in the town and fights against this censorship of ideas, then it will become okay. And of course, now to fight against these titles being removed, a student would have to sue the school board. It has happened before---Slaughterhouse Five (along with other books) was removed from a school library and is part of the basis of the Supreme Court case Board of Education Island Trees Union Free School District v. Pico-- the court case that tells libraries that one cannot remove books from a school library based on a dislike of the ideas found within the books.

Nevertheless, any time a book is challenged somewhere for its ideas and content it becomes a book people want to read and explore. It's a great time to check out Twenty Boy Summer or Slaughterhouse Five. We own copies in our libraries. And if you are reading this in Republic, Missouri--high school teens can request a copy of Slaughterhouse Five from the Vonnegut Memorial Library. Someone donated new copies of the book to be given to these teens if requested.

Read the books, talk about the books, and decide for yourself what to think of them.

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