Book Banning and Self-Censorship

“Fear and control” these are two of the main reasons for censorship according to the article “Facing the Issues: Challenges, Censorship, and Reflection through Dialogue” (Lent 62). pexels-photo-207636.jpeg

I think that fear and control perfectly describe what happens where censorship occurs. Because we read something that makes us uncomfortable (fear) we try to then ‘control’ the situation. This is especially true when it comes to our teens. A lot of times we try to shelter our teens from things that are out there in the world. But I think that this can have a negative effect. A lot of the books that are “censored” are books that maybe a teen would be able to safely navigate through to help find answers to questions they otherwise couldn’t.

I found it interesting in “A Dirty Little Secret: Self-Censorship” when they talked about how easy it is for people to censor books for anything. Any little thing nowadays, can be used as a catalyst for censorship. I can’t imagine how hard it is for authors and publishers. I especially found it interesting when the publisher for Carolyn Mackler asked her to change the title of her book The Bitches to Rhymes with Witches (qtd. in Whelan) and it still received opposition because now it might be about witchcraft! That’s crazy!

The article though, did get me thinking about myself, and that yes, I am also guilty of self-censorship. As I’ve Tweeted, I am pretty comfortable reading mostly anything, but am I comfortable enough to put any YA literature on my class bookshelf? The truthful answer to that unfortunately is no. There are very few titles that I can think of that I, myself, would object to having on my shelf; but there are titles that I would be worried would be called into question by parents and administration alike. Therefore, I am guilty of the “fear” part of censorship; fear of backlash.

I think there are many types of books that not only my students, but other students would benefit from reading. Many of these books could give them insights into what others are going through, and maybe at the same time, create more empathy in the world. I would like to think that if a student read Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl for instance, they would be less biased against people with HIV and much less likely to bully.

It would be great if you could have all types of books for students to choose from on your shelves. You could give each student their own choice as to what they wish to read and what avenues they wish to travel. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case.






4 thoughts on “Book Banning and Self-Censorship

  1. Hi, Holly, much of what you wrote is what is happening with the books in my classroom. Backlash over books is a real possibility that needs to be considered when choosing books for teen readers. There are many lessons to be learned from the sensitive issues that challenged books present. It would be sad if much of it was kept from its target audience. Would you put Positive: A Memoir in your classroom library? The book sounds inspiring, and it would be sad if it was kept out for the wrong reasons.


    1. I really thought about this issue as I was reading Positive: A Memoir, and as I’m sure you also know, I think there might be a couple parents that would object. But with that said, I definitely will be putting it in my classroom library because there is so much that students could learn from it. I also think it is one of those books that lends itself as such a teaching piece that I can defend having it with no problem.


  2. Fear and control sum it up pretty well. However, i think there’s also a lot of narrow-mindedness that isn’t our fault. When we grow up, we are inevitably taught, whether accidentally or on purpose, biases and prejudices that become part of our identity without even realizing it. I think that’s happening less and less, but so many of our opinions and inherited. As long as we strive to continue to open our minds and be willing to have new experiences, these issues will slowly fade.


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