The East Rockaway Gull

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The East Rockaway Gull

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Books Behind Bars

Books Behind Bars

Books bans have been raising concern amongst many citizens across the United States. A record-breaking study by PEN America found 3,362 banned titles in the 2022-2023 school year, a much higher percentage than the previous school year. Combined, 5,894 books in total are restricted nationwide for certain states. The states with the highest number of book ban cases include Florida (1,406), Texas (625), Missouri (333), and Utah (281), these of which are Republican-led states. 

The New York Times states that most of these banned books were “by or about people of color or L.G.B.T.Q people” with these statistics of 37% (of banned books) containing themes of race and racism and 36% containing themes of homosexuality. This literary revolt initially started with the rise of parents’ rights groups during the pandemic that complained about the content in these books. The groups target schools AND libraries, so not only can these restrictions affect students, but also all members within a community. 

For example, Florida, the state with the highest concentration of banned books, passed numerous laws such as HB 1557 that bans instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten to 3rd grade. Another law, HB 7, restricts educators from discussing advantages and disadvantages based on race. 

As I scrolled through the index list of banned books, I came across this book I read in the 7th grade called The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Though I’d forgotten about it for a long time, I remember the impact it did have on me during this period. It taught me the significance of education and how underprivileged minorities don’t have great opportunities and access to learning. It taught me the hardships these minorities face on a daily basis and how the nation continues to be ignorant of these issues, contributing to this continuous conflict. The book sheds light to these crucial issues that I feel should be taught to students, yet instead, are banned. 

This occurrence is very similar to the book Fahrenheit 451, in which protagonist Guy Montag’s government bans ALL books. Author Ray Bradbury created this story as a cautionary tale and warning against banning ideas and literature. Because of this banning, the people in this society are very uneducated, have shallow minds, and are very ignorant. While our society is far from that, I still think that censorship of all of these crucial and important books will not aid the development of students and learners. 

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