Should schools be allowed to ban controversial books?

“That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don’t know nothing about it.”
― Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Over the years, some schools have decided to outlaw the use of certain books or works of literature like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, “The Catcher in the Rye”, and “The Giver”. Many books have been banned due to the fact that they were written in the past and they did not expect the world to change so drastically. Take Huck Finn for example; Mark Twain probably did not expect his book to be read by millions of people 130 years after he released it. One of the concerns that people have about the book is that it uses a racist term for African-Americans. But this brings up a big question…

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Should schools have the power to ban literature?

I think that many of the books that schools have decided to ban have big learning experiences in them and they can educate young minds about some of the dangers of the past that are still relevant today. Racism, sexism, and ableism are all still problems. And schools should not have the ability to take away the chance to learn about the past in the hopes of making a better future for the next generation of scholars.

Having these hard discussions can lead people away from the vices that our modern day society has trouble understanding or attempting to control. From modern day terrorist attacks from neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, radicalized Americans, to many other groups of people that have a negative view of society, it is possible that these “tough” school discussions could stop some of the malicious intent that people have against certain groups of people. In my mind, teachers and administration of schools have an obligation to start the conversations that are hard to talk about and could be the outlets that people need to talk about racism or other topics. Schools can’t run away from it, or sweep it under a rug.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
― George Santayana

A lot of the lessons taught in these “banned” books have lessons that people today could benefit from. It is understood that racism is wrong, but I think that having certain examples of how it is bad, with a context from literature that is required to get read by students could go a long way in creating a positive image in the modern world.

Literature is something that gives us the freedom to express our thoughts without actually saying what is directly being said. Many authors manage to get their points across without even using the issues or words that people deem offensive. We know from so much of our classroom reading how much of the author’s intent and message is embedded in the reading, just waiting to be discovered.

Schools that ban books, in my mind, are restricting the flow of knowledge from students who are hungry to learn and want to have meaningful conversations about the issues that are addressed in those books, even if they aren’t the most comfortable of conversations. That cannot be allowed.


Jacob Schwarzmann, Senior

Jake Schwarzmann is a senior and a member of the Multimedia Journalism class.