Every year, the American Library Association and Amnesty International host Banned Books Week, a celebration of the freedom to read and draws attention to banned and challenged books.
Without a doubt, every year, I think about Farenheight 451, a 1953 dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury where books are banned and burned by firemen. It’s a compelling read on the value of education and the vitality of literature.
But, Banned Books Week is less a celebration of literary freedom and more a campaign against parental sovereignty. This campaign urges schools, families, and educational organizations to promote and distribute books that are highly questionable in content and are at the center of much controversy.
The American Library Association Office for Intellection Freedom tracked over 700 challenges to library, school, and college materials in 2021, and compiled a list of books that were most “targeted.” These challenges serve as the source of recommended readings during book week.
Books like Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe. This LGBTQIA+ book features sexually explicit content between same-sex individuals, self-pleasure, and inappropriate behavior between siblings.
It notes a monologue of a boy who masturbates to the imagination of him “hip-thrusting” while thinking of his latest gay exchange. It goes on to highlight a sister recommending her sibling put a finger in their vagina a “taste” it.
Or books like Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin. This documentary-styles book features descriptions of sex acts carried out by children.
From six up, I used to kiss other guys in my neighborhood, make out with them, and perform oral sex on them. I liked it. I used to love oral. And I touched their you-know-whats. We were really young, but that’s what we did.
I was making out with girls too. I used to love making out with girls ’cause everybody thought I was cool. Everybody was encouraging me. “Look, Frank’s not gay — he’s making out with a girl!” They wanted to know how the hell I learned to kiss like that. I didn’t know how I learned. It was pretty weird.
Guys used to hit on me — perverts-pedophiles. I’d see guys giving me a look, and it kinda creeped me out. They would touch themselves, saying, “Come here, sweetie.”
With hyper-sexualized books like these in schools across the nation — the question becomes “Should we attempt to ban them?” Do we want to be a society that picks and chooses literature and materials? Does this set a dangerous precedent?
The American Council Research Team has tracked many of these books in schools across the state like Whitney High School in Placer County, California, or Granite Bay High School.
Ray Bradbury said it this way in his writings: “A book is a loaded gun in the house next door…Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?”
He is right. Books have the power to liberate and empower; to educate and inspire. But books also have the power to pervert and distort, to defile and defame.
Books are like a loaded gun, and we have schools across America with a barrel to the temples of kids.
In the Book of Genesis, the author notes the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve knew intellectually the difference between good and evil because God commanded them to not eat the tree fruit. But, when they choose to disobey God, they knew evil experientially because they sinned against God.
When children are left to intellectually understand sexuality that is antithetical to the design of the Creator, it will lead to an experiential reality in their lives.
We want to empower children, not enslave them. We want to invest in our children, not indoctrinate them.
I am not suggesting the books above be banned from society. We live in a free society — and people have the right to read, explore, and write what they wish. But, the decision to expose children to subject material that is antithetical to personal beliefs and convictions should rest with parents — not with educators.
Contrary to cultural belief, we don't want to ban books. But, we do not want books that fight the values being taught by parents in schools.