Banned Books Week Begins

Hand-drawn infographic depicting the purpose of Banned Books Week

Brennah Lee, Opinions Editor

Library’s annual Rebel Reader Twitter Tournament and Banned Books Week event took place from Sep. 24 to 30, and focused on the rights of students in the community.

The year focused on the first amendment rights, including free speech of students and library patrons, and this year follows a “Right to Read” theme.

Banned Books week is not only a school function, but a nationwide event that is sponsored by the American Library Association and the Office of Intellectual Freedom.

“We want to inform students about their rights as a reader. Everyone has a right to read what they want,” SBHS Librarian Karen Farzin said. “Although some books aren’t appropriate for certain populations, no one should control what is available to readers.”

Each year, the librarians set up displays in the front of the library, and informational campaigns are posted on the school website and social media accounts.

“This year we’re partnering with Ms. Cimino and Ms. Berry’s eleventh grade English classes to set up the displays,” Ms. Farzin said. “They will also be participating in the creation of a social media campaign on Twitter.”

Some of the assigned texts at Stone Bridge, such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” in ninth grade and “Catcher in the Rye” in eleventh grade, have been among the challenged books to be removed from public libraries.

More and more books have been censored from school and public libraries, and even those that are considered productive learning material are at risk to be challenged and removed.

“Controversial topics in books, when approached in a controlled and specifically educational manner, can be very beneficial, but when it’s just thrown out there, and exposed in the wrong way, it can be very counterproductive,” Principal Matthew Wilburn said.

According to the Banned Books Week Website, there was a 17% increase in book censorship complaints in 2016. While only 10% of the titles reported are normally removed from the institutions receiving the challenges, half of the challenged books were actually banned last year, as stated by the OIF.

“Some texts that were considered controversial in the past are considered less harsh in the present,” Mr. Wilburn said. “However schools go through a vetting process through the central offices, and parents are able to challenge or review any material.”

The risk of a book being banned is present at any time, and students who want to have the choice to read whatever they wish should participate in this event.

“The fear of book censorship is still present,” Ms. Farzin said. “In the end, when a book is highly challenged by the community, it goes to LCPS Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams to make a decision.”

This year the library challenges students to complete tasks on Twitter for the chance to win a variety of literary prizes. Some tasks include taking a selfie with a challenged book, tweeting an author of a challenged book, or sharing a story of an educator that helped you find your voice.

More information about the event can be found on the library tab on the school website, the Bulldog Librarian’s twitter, and in displays, posters, and brochures in the library itself.

“The library staff wants to bring a school wide awareness to this issue and remind students that they should have the option and availability to read anything,” Ms. Farzin said. “They have the freedom of speech and no one should control what the students are reading.”