Hiding away the past to “protect” the future


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Mary-Grace Graham, Editor



What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

— John Steinbeck

Works of literature provide information about the past which can be used to shape the future. Oftentimes, we need the guidance and to see the harsh reality of the past in order to improve as a society. Author John Steinbeck said it best in the quote above.

With that being said, many books including several of Steinbeck’s have been “banned” or put on a list to review due to controversial elements such as slurs. While slurs are in no way acceptable, works such as To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee are still significant, as these classics have brought to light issues of racism and how prevalent they were during the time of publishing and even today. Many lessons can be learned through works like these which help define history.

The American Library Association (ALA) is a foundation that compiles lists of challenged books for attempted banning. The association itself does not ban books, but rather provides information about such books and why they were challenged.

“Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others”(ALA).

Despite the issue of banning historical works to make them less harsh, it is beneficial to inform the public about such issues that may be expressed in books as a warning. This does not mean that information should be taken out of books, but rather let readers know beforehand so they do not start reading controversial works unaware of the of the strong and possibly harsh themes.

With this, many schools require students to read books such as Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird which is a good way to inform students of the real issues surrounding those with disabilities and those experiencing racism. School systems overall do a good job of letting the students know about the background of the book which is beneficial to truly grasp all that is happening in the book and the reasons behind what happens.

All things considered, banning books is not correct or helpful. Hiding away the past will only cause possible issues that could have been avoided in years to come. With that being said, there are many cases in which works of literature should include a sensitive topic warning.

More information about banned and challenged books can be found here.