Why it matters
"To deny the freedom of choice in fear that it may be unwisely used is to destroy the freedom itself"
National Council of Teachers of English
Reading expands our worldview, connecting us to new people, ideas, and experiences. Censorship, on the other hand, divides us and builds walls that block us from the wider world. No book is the right fit for every reader; that's why having a well-stocked library with a range of book choices is important. If you don't like the book you're reading, put it down and choose another.
But some dissatisfied readers employ a more drastic approach: banning the book so that nobody can read it. Unfortunately, data from the American Library Association show that more than 273 books were challenged or banned in 2020. Books that address racism, share stories of people of color, or contain LGBTQ+ themes were frequent targets.
The National Coalition Against Censorship confirms, "The targets of censorship are often the narratives of underrepresented groups. Censoring those narratives leaves ignorance and prejudice unchallenged. This, in turn, can reinforce feelings of isolation, marginalization and shame among the students from those groups, while denying other students the opportunity to learn about the experience of those who are different from them."
In its "Students' Right to Read" document, the National Council of Teachers of English states, "One of the foundations of a democratic society is the individual's right to read, and also the individual's right to freely choose what they would like to read." Our students deserve that right.