The practice of book banning in school libraries and community libraries has been around for centuries but it hasn’t been as relevant as it has within the last few years. Every time I hear about a book being banned, the first thing that comes to mind is Ray Bradbury’s 1953 Novel Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury writes about a future in which all kinds of books are banned for the sake of creating a Utopian society in which all individuals are indoctrinated into propaganda.
Books are burned and if an individual is found with a book, they will be prosecuted. Books are banned because they provide opposing views, they question the norms, they have the ability to inspire change. With the growing numbers of organizations whose sole purpose is to ban books across school and community libraries, I think we are gradually approaching Fahrenheit 451.
1,648 books were banned from school and community libraries last school year alone.
The majority of those books are by LGBTQIA+ and ethnic minority authors or display themes of racism in the United States or include characters from the LGBTQIA+ community. According to Pen America, 81% of books banned last year are about these two topics. Parents and organizations that advocate for those bans usually defend their stance by claiming that they are protecting the children from sensitive and radical topics. The question is: what is so radical about educating children about the true history of the U.S? How long are we going to teach a one sided version of history for the sake of “protecting” kids from the truth?
Earlier this year, Florida education officials rejected 36 social studies textbooks. According to GPB.org, the Florida education board stated that they rejected those books because they did not “align with Florida Law” or that they had inaccurate information. Some of those books rejected included reference to the killing of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Holocaust. It is evident that the practice of book banning is unethical.
“Books unite us. They reach across boundaries and build connections between readers. Censorship on the other hand, divides us and creates barriers” (American Library Association, 2021).
We are witnessing the eraser of history in front of our eyes with this censorship madness. This is a violation of our first amendment rights. When it comes to the polls, 71% of voters oppose the practice of book banning in school and community libraries. So, why should we let a few parents and far right organizations dictate what everybody else reads?
We are living in a polarized political environment because the opposing sides are not willing to open books to read and understand the other side and that is creating barriers in our society. The only way to avoid reaching the point of Fahrenheit 451 is by stopping this book banning madness and embracing opposing ideas and people that differ from us.