The History of Banned Books

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is regarded as one of the greatest works of all time. Though, this book and many others have been scrutinized and banned in certain cases for themes not accepted during certain times.


Liv Baker, Reporter

Although the first amendment allows for the freedom of speech, school boards and libraries have been banning certain books since the beginning of the printing press for numerous reasons such as unorthodox messages, communist themes, and sexual content. Some of the most notorious and loved books also happen to be banned, such as To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

When a book is ‘banned,’ it likely will not be sold in a community, and it will not be taught in classrooms. These books provide an opportunity for children to see other viewpoints as well as think outside the box. For example, The Catcher in The Rye depicts a young man dealing with substance abuse, prostitution, and untraditional opinions on the roles of the government. By banning certain books, furthers the stigma around these topics and prevents them from being discussed.
Banning books was a practice common in the 1600s when Puritan values were the first priority amongst society. Even today, it is common for books to be banned in religious societies for insulting a religious community or by questioning their beliefs. This Side of Paradise was banned due to Fitzgerald’s vulgar diction and to prevent further skepticism amongst Catholics.
The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin was even at one point challenged by the government because it taught information that was contradictory to the church. Even though it piece encouraged skepticism amongst church-goers, Darwin’s scientific evidence led to a scientific revival and helped keep Americans well-informed.

Some books may have even been banned as they are ‘unsuitable to an age group.’ It is argued that Charlotte’s Web does not appear to have any targeted demographic, parents in Kansas argued that the talking animals in the children’s book were unnatural and “borderline blasphemous.”

Violence is often a key aspect of literature that tends to justify the need to outlaw a book.’ The Harry Potter series was even at one point banned in Georgia due to the belief that witchcraft would encourage students to behave in violent manners like in the series. Lord of the Flies is one of the most famous banned books that exhibit violence throughout the novel, some scenes are described as “immoral and inhumane.”

There is a remaining question of does the banning or censorship of books violates the first amendment? By attempting to preserve homogenous ideas, morals, and values school boards are excluding any opinions that challenge tradition. Children in today’s age may find it difficult to form their own identity and to think on their own, as they have been fed the same ideas through literature without any opposing viewpoints.

Although it is easier for parents and schools to limit what children are reading and being exposed to, it can harm the children in the long run. Literature helps children find a place in the world as well as develop a sense of sympathy for people who have experienced hardships. Just because a book is banned because of blasphemous or untraditional values doesn’t mean authors will stop writing them.