Classic books now banned from the curriculum

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Courtesy of Creative Commons

Harper Lee, author of banned book, “To Kill a Mockingbird,”

Teacher’s curriculums change all the time, but now, school boards are removing the books that have been taught for decades.

Books have not only been removed from many school curriculums across the country, but were banned. Reasons that books become censored or banned because of the information they contain and address.

Racial issues, encouragement of “damaging” lifestyles, blasphemous dialog (referring to God and Jesus), sexual situations or dialog, violence or negativity, prescience of witchcraft, religious affiliations (unpopular religions), political bias and age inappropriate topics are the most common, with some being more enforced than others, according to the Arizona State University library department.

With current events in America and all over the world, racial injustice has been brought to the attention of almost everyone, especially to the government. Whether schools are attempting to discourage the ideas of riots or to withhold information about America’s past events, many people are upset by the efforts to no longer carry these books in school libraries.

Stella Malone, an American Literature teacher, “I believe ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ has been banned in some school systems because it contains a rape trial and also because of the racial issues, specifically the use of the ‘n’ word. Much of the book is about the loss of childlike innocence, but this particular learning  experience enriches the child, rather than frightens her like some of the other ones in the book.”

Classics such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, and “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding are discontinued in the curriculum. Lord of the Flies was never officially banned, but was challenged by many schools, and not taught by schools across the nation.

Mary Crosby, Media Specialist at Decatur says Worcester County has discontinued several books as well; “Fahrenheit 451,” “Of Mice and Men,” “Catcher in the Rye,” and “To Kill and Mockingbird.” “Animal Farm” was banned but then brought back, and is now being taught in tenth grade.

“Catcher in the Rye” was banned for many reasons, including multiple scenes and references to prostitution and premarital sex, having the main character be bad role model for students reading and analyzing the text, and in 1992 was banned in Illinois for its alcohol abuse according to teenink.com.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” was banned on a bases of racial injustice, class systems, gender roles, rape, strong language, incest and authority, and loss of innocence while discussing violence.

“I loved teaching ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and felt that it fit well in American Literature,” Malone said.

“Many disagree with me because they think that since the main character is a nine year old child, it is geared toward a younger audience. I disagree with this argument because the main character is narrating as an adult who is looking back on this time  in her childhood. The narrator’s language is sophisticated and her descriptions are vivid. There are many complex themes that lend themselves to a rich and rewarding experience about sensitive and controversial topics.”

Not only does the banning of these books have negative effect on teachers, it also has an effect on students.

Megan Palmer wrote a short informational text titled, “Book Banning Bans the Future: The Negative Effects of Book Banning Regarding High School Students,” where she expresses the problems that can come from banning books in schools.

“For teachers, book banning means shaky, ever-changing curriculum, fear for personal choices, and the tragedy of self-censorship. For students, book banning means a denial of First Amendment rights, a narrow world view, and psychological deficits. For the classroom, book banning means discourse is hindered,” wrote Palmer.

While these books contain inappropriate topics, especially in a school setting, the also contain historical references and information needed to obtain a better grasp on past events that shaped the future.