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What is Book Banning?

An escape from their reality and the opportunity to delve into a different reality. The chance to learn, grow and expand our knowledge beyond what we have ever known. This is what reading is, an outlet for many and an opportunity to further our education and life experiences. Why are so many books being banned if reading can be so positive?

Book banning has been around for many years and is a topic we continue to discuss. The intention of banning books comes from the desire to protect children, or at least that is how it is presented. The idea that some of the subject matter or content in a book is too advanced for children of a particular age is a reasonable desire to ban books; however, some argue that book banning comes against our freedom of speech.

The ALA, American Library Association, believes that everyone of all ages should have access to all resources in a library, leaving the restriction in the hands of the parents. Essentially, it allows parents to make the best decision for their child but not everyone else's child.

Book banning can be traced back to 1650 when William Pynchon wrote and published The Meritorious Place of Our Redemption. Due to the context of this pamphlet stating that anyone who was obedient to God could get into heaven, the pamphlet was banned and burned. At the time, the Puritan Calvinists didn't want the message that heaven was for the predestined to be supported.

One of the most impactful books was Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. This book became popular quickly, outselling the Bible. Uncle Tom's Cabin became the book that opened people's eyes to the reality of slavery.

From 1873 to the present day, there has been an ongoing battle concerning this topic. There have been many attempts to ban books for various reasons, such as challenging American history and societal norms, language, and sexual or political content. Some have challenged these books in court, but it has stayed the same throughout the conversation. In 1982, Banned Book Week was created to respond to the various amounts of books being challenged. For a more in-length look into book banning, National Geographic has shared an article that provides excellent detail.

The action of banning books seems to stem from fear and control. This Reuters article discusses the rise in book banning within the past two years. The propaganda technique I see used is plain-folks. Plain-folks technique, according to Propogantda Critic, is a technique used by people to convince their audience that their ideas are "of the people." Advocacy groups and politicians will approach the subject as concerned parents who want to ensure their child has a safe learning space—approaching the issue as a concerned parent rather than someone of power. This makes them relatable and easier to support. In reality, there is much more motivation behind banning these books than their concern as a parent. It's the desire to control the world their children grow up in. Banning books puts a limit on what is taught. Limiting what someone is taught is controlling and inhibiting their freedom. Being against book banning is not about exposing children to topics beyond their ability to understand but about opening up their minds to different experiences beyond their own.

We hinder our relationships when we limit our ability to learn and understand. We may not experience people of different world views until we are 18 years old. At that point, our parents and guardians have already influenced much of our beliefs.

Today, there is still a fight against banning books. I live in Florida, the second state with the most banned books, right behind Texas.

This week, September 18 - 24, is Banned Book Week. This week the topic is "Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us." Although it has been many years, book banning is still occurring. Every year there is a new list of books that are being challenged with the desire to have them banned.

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