By Emery Trautner- Co-Editor
“13 Reasons Why,” “50 Shades of Grey,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” … Most people have heard of these books, but not why they have been challenged or banned in the U.S.
As part of national Banned Books Week sponsored by the American Library Association, students and faculty at MCC will be reading excerpts from a banned book of their choice and explaining the reasons for the ban.
The reading will take place from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26, in the Blue and Gold Room on campus.
“Reading banned books has a huge impact on students,” said Theresa Kanoza, English faculty and coordinator of the local event. “Many banned titles have an unsettling effect. Such good literature is ‘dangerous’ because it challenges us to think differently about the world and people in it. Books can pull us out of our comfort zones and acquaint us with diversity. A good story can teach compassion, the ability to recognize our shared humanity in others.”
Kanoza mentioned several banned titles, including Angie Thomas’ 2017 young adult novel “The Hate U Give,” the children’s book “And Tango Makes Three,” which features a same-sex relationship, and John Steinbeck’s Depression-era novel “The Grapes of Wrath,” where exploited Americans find dignity through political collectivism.
Discussions will focus on why books are banned or challenged due to profanity, sexual explicitness, criticism of political leadership, or other reasons.
Students nowadays view more explicit material on social media than they ever have when reading a book.
“Sure, restrictions can be a good idea, but they should be implemented in the sphere of the private and personal,” Kanoza said. “I can restrict what books or other media I will allow in my house, but I don’t have that right to limit other people’s access to material in the public domain.”
People encounter roadblocks from others who think they can’t handle the content and challenge books that do not fit their particular set of beliefs. A grey area exists in deciding what is appropriate for students of different ages, but the freedom to read information is a basic right of citizens.
Students crave relatable books, especially when they can dive into a story about their own lives. People find characters going through the exact thing they are, which makes reading a more powerful experience and a great way for students to learn information they may not find anywhere else.
The ALA started #BannedBooksWeek to celebrate the freedom to read and express controversial ideas in popular books.
The group tracks the numbers of books banned across the country in public libraries and public schools and makes people aware of what some disagree with.