To read or not to read | Teen Ink

To read or not to read

June 26, 2009
By Alyssa Jaycox BRONZE, Creve Coeur, Missouri
Alyssa Jaycox BRONZE, Creve Coeur, Missouri
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Close your eyes and picture this: You’re sitting in your Communication Arts class, its reading workshop and you pull out your favorite book. You open up to your bookmarked page and you’re immediately into the book. You feel like you’re with the characters, feeling their every emotion, when your teacher rips the book out of your hand!

“This book has been banned from our school district. You must take it home or I will take it away from you.” The teacher demanded, as you look at him, dumbfounded! You quickly put your book back into your bag and sit in the corner, still thinking about your book. What would make them want to ban it? What other major books have been banned? Well, you may be surprised at the reasons books get banned.

To me, I believe that everyone has the right to read what they want and to read it without being told that its “wrong” or “not age-appropriate.” I think that we are old enough to know the difference between what’s right for our age and what’s not. We don’t have teachers picking out books for us anymore, so I think teachers trust us to make decisions for ourselves now.

Some of the books they ban (or want to ban, in that matter) are classics, like Huckleberry Finn. People have been reading this book for over a decade, and now they have decided to ban it from schools because of the language. Huckleberry Finn, which was fist published in 1885, refers to African Americans as a “nigger” It doesn’t just say it once, try more like 200 times. Some people may think its wrong, but you must remember the day in age. African Americans didn’t have any rights 100 years ago, but think of how many rights they have now.

In the late 1800’s, that’s how African Americans were referred to. I’m not saying that it’s right to call people that, but that was what they were called! Who are we to ban a piece of American history? Who are we to judge something that was written over a hundred years ago? In a hundred years, people are going to think what we said was not proper or not appropriate. Our language evolves over time, so the language gets better and better as the days go along.

Are you then saying that you want to take away the Mona Lisa, because of what she was wearing? It’s basically saying that we don’t like the painting because of her dress! You’re saying that we don’t like the book because of a word! We are basically trying to omit a piece of the past, but what’s done is done. We can’t change the past, and trying to change it by banning a piece of classic literature is wrong, even is it refers to people in a different way. So, I believe that people don’t have the right to ban a piece of classic literature, even if it calls people something different.

Speaking of popular literature, did you know that The Harry Potter series has been challenged 25 times in 17 states since the release in the U.S? There were 478 efforts to remove the books from library shelves and classrooms in 1998-1999 alone. Do you know why everyone wants to ban the series? Just because of the witchcraft! More than 5 million copies have been sold of the first three books alone, so have those 5 million kids tried to kill people with magic? I didn’t think so. Harry Potter is aimed at older kids anyway, so teenagers won’t be running around trying to turn people into animals!

There are a bunch of reasons for not banning Harry Potter, but maybe the most important reason is that the young wizard has made kids put away the video games and pick up a book! Harry Potter has engaged millions of kids into reading! The life lessons that it teachers are valuable and can be used throughout their life: good vs. evil, courage, and overcoming adversity are all appropriate for teenagers.

So if they want to ban Harry Potter, then I guess they will want to ban Halloween too? Halloween has the same idea, magic and fantasy characters. There is nothing wrong with make-believe. It makes kids dream and have a good time while they are young. Children recognize the difference between fantasy and reality! So, I don’t think people should ban a book that makes kids want to read, even if it has fantasy characters and magic in it.

Speaking of fantasy characters, did you know that parents all over the U.S. are trying to ban the newest vampire series, The Twilight Saga? Parents are trying to ban it from the middle schools because of “sexual themes” and “un-appropriate content.” Sure, it may have some kissing, but they don’t go into detail when it happens. Don’t all romantic dramas have kissing in it?

Like I said about the other 2 books, this book is aimed at teenagers, so we should be able to handle this kind of stuff. The author of The Twilight Saga, Stephenie Meyer, is a Christian, so her books would be much cleaner then other vampire books that were written by people with no faith at all. The author said the Twilight has a reading level for 8th graders, so basically for kids in middle school.

They also want to ban The Twilight Series because of the vampire content. I read the books, and I am not going around trying to suck other people’s blood! Nobody is banning the other new vampire series, Vampire Kisses, even though it has the same content. People have been reading vampire books for 100 years, so now they just decide to ban Twilight? My personal opinion is that people don’t like how popular the book is getting, and they just want to get attention for trying to ban on of the biggest series of 2008. So I think that people shouldn’t ban Twilight because nothing is wrong with it and it is in the right age group already.

I believe that people should be able to read what they want. I think that banning shouldn’t be legal and should be banned itself! People are free in America, but we still can’t read what we want? We have freedom here, and we should have freedom to read what we want.

The author's comments:
I love to read, its my favorite thing to do. I saw all of the debates on the internet, and I thought that some of the reasons to ban a book are not reasonable, so I thought that I should voice why I think banning books is a waste of time.

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This article has 8 comments.

Bones96 BRONZE said...
on May. 31 2013 at 8:14 pm
Bones96 BRONZE, Charlotte, North Carolina
2 articles 0 photos 108 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life isn't about finding yourself it's about creating yourself-

I agree a %100 with your artical. We should be able to read what we want and encouage reading and a love a reading.  While I'm not a fan of Twlight I don't think a book of any kind should be ban for unreasonable reasons. 

on Apr. 16 2013 at 5:08 pm
iWriteForFood SILVER, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
9 articles 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Logic will get you from point A to point B. Imagination will take you everywhere." ~Albert Einstein

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well written, and very true! My school does Accelerated Reader, and I read the Twilight Saga the summer before sixth grade, and when I came back to test on it, I found out it was banned! I guess they wanted to protect the younger kids, but that should be at parents' discretion.

on Aug. 16 2010 at 9:58 pm
earlybird_8 BRONZE, Roberts Creek, Other
4 articles 0 photos 115 comments

Favorite Quote:
The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Nicely written. I agree, a lot of excellent books get banned, sometimes for the stupidest reasons. Banning books is a direct violation of free speech, and is a step backward on the path to a free society. 

on Jul. 27 2009 at 3:33 pm
SRobserver GOLD, Montreal, Other
11 articles 1 photo 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
" Be yourself , everyone else is taken"

I stand corrected , I see your point and now understand that we cant erase history, and thats what I origanly thought we should do.

on Jul. 17 2009 at 12:24 pm
SRobserver GOLD, Montreal, Other
11 articles 1 photo 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
" Be yourself , everyone else is taken"

Excellent Rebutel! I admit my comment was a bit hasty , but the point I was trying to make was that we should erase this hurtfull world from history , but twilightaddict , I loved your response and now Im convinced! History shouldnt be erased and this generation should learn the mistakes of the past. wait to go!

tooto foofo said...
on Jul. 17 2009 at 12:23 am
good story i like it good job Alyssa

on Jul. 16 2009 at 4:49 pm

Think about who is reading Hucklberry Finn, young adults. Young adults aren't like little kids, they don't go running around repeating the word. Young adults understand the meaning and why they used that word. Young adults would read it and move on, and they would understand that it was a thing of the past, and a very hurtful word. They would understand that times have changed, and that people have more rights now. So I think it should not be changed because, once again, its editing out the past, and why would we do that?

on Jul. 15 2009 at 5:02 pm
SRobserver GOLD, Montreal, Other
11 articles 1 photo 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
" Be yourself , everyone else is taken"

To say that removing the word n***er from Huckelberry Finn would be changing american history is discraseful!

Why should you consider a time were people were judged by the color of their skin american history! I would call it Americas Darkest Era!, their big mistake. A mistake that we thankfully now no. So I agree that we should not ban Hucklberry Finn , a great peace of literature. But changing the word n***er from its context to keep children and young people from mimiking the injustice that happend to the human race years ago is not such a bad thing , is it?