• Can public school libraries ban certain books?

    Date: 10.20.09 | by Judge Tom.

    The American Library Association publishes each year the “Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books.” For several years “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky has made the list. In October, 2009, it was removed from the libraries at William Byrd and Hidden Valley High Schools in Virginia. Apparently a complaint was made by a parent regarding the book’s sexually explicit scenes.

    PerksofWallflowerWhen a complaint is received about a book, a process for review occurs whereby several librarians read the book and decide if it will be returned to the library’s collection. School libraries have a responsibility to their readers and may, under appropriate circumstances, exercise censorship discretion.

    Banned Books Week takes place every Fall across America. It is an effort to increase awareness of First Amendment rights and censorship. You may recognize some of these books – they all made the Top Ten List in recent years:

    Gossip Girls by Cecily von  Ziegesar

    The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

    The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

    The Color Purple by Alice Walker

    Forever by Judy Blume

    Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

    Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

    Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

    Some of the objections to these materials included offensive language, sexual content, homosexuality, anti-family content, occult, satanism, religious viewpoints, violence, racism, and unsuitable for age group.

    Do you think your school or public library should be in the business of banning books? Are the reasons cited above grounds to keep a book from access? Do you agree that censorship should be exercised by your school or your parents, or both? Are “age-appropriate” categories of reading materials acceptable? Why or why not?

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    1 Comment subscribe to these comments.

    • KellyAnn
      Tue, 24 Nov 2009 at 06:41

      You can choose what to read, but it’s best to have all possibilities open.