Banned Books Week
September 18th – 24th 2022 marks Banned Books Week.
What is Banned Books Week? Banned books week is a week that celebrates all of the books that were banned from public libraries, school libraries, and special topic libraries etc.
Why are books banned? Books are banned because puritanical culture deems books on topics of racism and antiracism, gender and sexuality, gender expression, sexual orientation, socialism, communism, Marxism, working class history, black history, indigenous history, activism, inequity, and economic inequality, rape, sexual assault, witchcraft, offensive language etc. as unfit for society to learn about, read, or discuss among their peers.
What is so offensive about these books? To answer that question one has to understand what puritan means and who the Puritans – aka Pilgrims – were when this country was founded and what they believed and how they came to be here in what became the United States of America.
- Puritan means: one who practices or preaches a more rigorous or professedly purer moral code than that which prevails.
- A Puritan person is a member of a 16th and 17th century Protestant group in England and New England opposing as unscriptural the ceremonial worship and the prelacy of the Church of England.
What did they believe and how does that tie in with Banned Books?
- In History Puritans (also known as Pilgrims or Separatists) believed that the Church of England was too lavish and not following a strict moral code that they believed the bible preached. In short, they felt that everyone should only have the bare minimum needed to survive when it came to clothes, food, household items, and everyone should lead a very demure and kempt lifestyle.
Surely one can surmise that Puritans would most certainly frown on books about issues of race, history, gender and sexuality, LGBTIQIAP+ issues, books with offensive language – which they would certainly view as uncouth -, politics, black fiction etc. and certainly books that promote witchcraft such as Harry Potter for example they also would frown upon.
Today, there is a war on these books in school libraries, classrooms, public libraries, and even academic libraries. Having books that are diverse when it comes to displaying things such as history, minority cultures, minority genders, minority races, political viewpoints, economics and inequity, and more is important because it helps foster and educated population that otherwise might not know about such things and moreover it helps the self esteem of such individuals in these communities when they see themselves in a book. This is the pivotal reason why we must have such books in public, school, classrooms, and academic libraries: to uplift and educate society. While the Puritans may have thought that the world was black and white – even then it wasn’t – it is important to recognize that this world is a huge melting pot and acknowledging that in books is an important way to educate and uplift the population. This is why today more than ever before it is important that people are active in their school board meetings to keep these books in schools, school libraries, public libraries, academic libraries, and school classrooms. Mostly because, banned books are the very first things that libraries from school, public, and academic are being told to cut and those are absolutely ones that everyone should read the most.
See this list for a list of banned books that might just shock you.
Happy reading and happy #BannedBooksWeek!
- PBS WHYY. “People and Ideas: Early American Groups: The Pilgrims.” PBS, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/godinamerica-early-american-groups/ , 9/20/22.
- ALA. “Banned Books Week”. https://bannedbooksweek.org/ , 9/20/22.
- Treisman, Rachel. “Texas governor decries school library books with ‘pornographic or obscene material” NPR, Governor Greg Abbott, https://static.texastribune.org/media/files/94fee7ff93eff9609f141433e41f8ae1/krausebooklist.pdf?_ga=2.198578726.883880457.1635853226-1714971255.1635853226 https://www.npr.org/2021/11/02/1051471236/texas-governor-abbott-calls-for-removal-of-obscene-school-library-books 9/20/22.
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