U.S.A. in the Book Banning Spotlight
In Virginia, a mother is petitioning the Board of Education to remove Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Beloved, from the A.P. English curriculum. She insists that revealing the horrors of slavery is upsetting and not appropriate for young adults.
In Kansas, a school district removed 29 books from its curriculum, claiming they contain material that might make students feel guilt simply because of their race (white) or sex (male). Award winners like Confessions of Nat Turner head the list of banned books, as does The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.
In Texas, a school district informed teachers that if they include a book on the Holocaust, they must also provide a book with an “opposing” view. In December of 2021, Texas state representative Matt Krause further pushed for the banning of 850 books.
In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster threatened to send police to seize offensive books. And possibly even arrest school librarians who have not yet removed banned books from shelves.
Banned Books share one thing in common — almost all have received universally recognized awards from respected literary organizations. For example: the Newberry Medal, Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award for Young People, American Library Association Best Young Adults Books, Barnes & Noble – Top 10 Best Books for Teens, and the California Book Award.
What’s being banned? Here’s an example:
Laurie Halse Anderson, whose books for young people have been challenged on numerous occasions, articulates the situation: By attacking these books, by attacking the authors, by attacking the subject matter, what they are doing is removing the possibility for conversation. You are laying the groundwork for increased bullying, disrespect, violence and attacks.
Advocates of book banning claim they are ‘protecting children.’ Fact is, it’s really about hiding the truth and rewriting a history of which the parents of students, grandparents and great-grandparents are the authors. It’s about discrimination, politics, conservatism, race, gender and anti-intellectualism. At a recent public school board meeting, a strong advocate for banning a specific book admitted he had not read the book.
Could book banning spread to International Schools offering a U.S. curriculum? It may seem unlikely, but so did the level at which parents, activists, school boards and lawmakers in America are currently challenging outstanding Young Adult and Children’s literature. What are your thoughts?
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