Letters to the Editor

Books should be there to be read, not banned

In January 2024, a decision to remove a surprising book from the Escambia County School District occurred: They decided to remove the dictionary.

You read that right: the dictionary.

Granted, this was not the only book that was pulled; the full list of titles pulled for review is 1,600. A bill in Florida known as HB 1069 puts limits on some of the materials that can be provided to students. The bill claims that schools cannot use reading material that are inappropriate for the age group intended for it or any books that depict sexual content.

This bill seems as though it were made in order to protect children from pornography or other sexual topics that they aren’t ready for yet.

Florida is not the only state banning books so rapidly. All across the country, book bans are on the rise. According to the American Library Association, titles that were targeted by book banners in public libraries rose 92% in 2023. In addition, books representing LGBT+ and BIPOC characters or authors made up 47% of the books challenged last year.

Book banning groups like Moms for Liberty claim that they want to protect children. They see materials in libraries and schools as inappropriate for children and they wish to remove them. However, books are a way for people to share their stories with the entire world. Why should only a select few be allowed that gift? Why shouldn’t anyone be able to pick up a book that could help them understand themselves and make them feel less alone?

In addition, a lot of the supposed “sexual content” in these books is not pornographic in nature. This “sexual content” could be anything from the type of information found in sex ed textbooks to LGBT+ people describing sexual experiences in the course of a book’s narrative.

Children are ready for such content at different age levels, but they are not being exposed to harm. They are being exposed to facts of life, and middle and high schoolers know many of these facts already.

Parents have the right to choose what their child may or may not read. However, they do not have the right to restrict what everyone else is reading. By banning books, students have less access to important knowledge that shapes the kind of adults they will become. Book banning is practically becoming an epidemic. This epidemic may not be COVID, but it is just as harmful, and furthermore, it is an epidemic that people can actually do something about.

How can people fight book bans? They can go to library board meetings, talk to friends and family about freedom to read, write letters to the editor (such as this one), and more. Many associations like the ALA have instructions or even toolkits for people to use to fight book bans.

By speaking up about book banning, people can fight for the freedom to read and for everyone to access all kinds of books at libraries and schools without censorship. Books are meaningful. They should not be censored just because a certain group does not like them or feels offended by them. Books are for everyone. As long as people fight for the right to read, there is hope that one day people will stop these bans and learn to accept one another, both inside and outside the library.

Erica Garbutt

Laguna Beach

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