So, there is a lot going on in the news right now about books. No, there isn't a new best seller that's grabbing the headlines. No, a new movie based on a hit book didn't just hit the theaters. All the hype is because there are a large handful of books that are up for discussion on how appropriate they are for students. Like books that include scenes and scenarios relating to sex, gender identity, race, violence, and others. So a large handful of parents are demanding certain books be banned from public and school libraries. I'm seeing and hearing A LOT of adults talking about what they think about book bans... but what do TEENS think about book bans?
What books are people trying to ban?
It can be hard to fathom how widespread the book ban discussion has become and just how many books would be affected! However, it's important to realize that many of the books being discussed are essentials, like "To Kill A Mockingbird," which is a staple in any U.S. middle school English classroom. Additionally, many of the books are helpful to marginalized teens feeling "seen," whether it be because of certain experiences, identities, etc.
Some of the books being challenged are:
"Maus" by Art Spiegelman
This Pulitzer-winning graphic novel, written by American cartoonist Art Spiegelman, retells Art's father's personal experiences during the Holocaust, but with Jews being drawn as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats.
"Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson
The book centers around the experiences and thoughts of Melinda Sordino, who is a freshman (and outcast) at Merryweather High. The story starts on the first day of school, a few months after something traumatic happened to her at a party. But what happened to her isn't revealed until later on as Melinda starts to acknowledge what happened to her.
"The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas
This book is about sixteen-year-old Starr Carter, who witnesses the fatal shooting of her best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. She has to deal with whether or not she should tell what she really saw that night. And what Starr says (or doesn't say) could upend her community and put her life in danger.
"All Boys Aren't Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto" by George M. Johnson
This book is a collection of personal essays by prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson. In his essays, he explores his life and memories of growing up as a Black queer boy in New Jersey. George's book covers many topics including: gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy.
The reasons book bans are happening.
So, there are several big reasons. Many books are being challenged because of scenes depicting violence, sex, obscene language, racism, nudity, sexual or gender identity, and other heavy topics that can be difficult to talk about.
So, WHY aren't we asking students about the book bans?
It's weird that we aren't listening more to what the students think about these books being challenged. You know, the people that will be reading these books?! Plenty is being said from the parents' perspective in the discussions online and in the news,
But more importantly, what do TEENS THINK? Especially with teens being just shy of adulthood and making their own choices. Generally, this is the time they are becoming their own people with their own identities separate from their parents. Teens are being directly affected by these books being removed! Therefore, don't they have a say in this super important conversation?
To our teen and young adult readers - we want to know what YOU THINK about all this!
So, are you for or against these book bans? Or maybe you are still not sure what you think - that's okay! Remember, we just want to know what you think as the ones who are going to be most affected by this. Maybe there is a book that helped you get through the challenges that come with being a teenager? Or maybe there is a novel that helped you better understand yourself, like your identity or your experiences? Please share with us the comments below this blog. Or, feel free to join the conversation on our Instagram page.