Why Do Banned Books Become Banned?

By Maria Martinez
Blog Content Contributor

Banned Books Week is an annual awareness campaign that celebrates the freedom to read. This year, it was celebrated from September 25 through October 1. Its main focus is to defend the First Amendment, which protects the freedom of speech and press. Texas State had a banned books reading at the Alkek Library, and I went to see what it was all about.

Reader at the Texas State Banned Books reading event. Photo by Maria Martinez.
Reader at the Texas State Banned Books reading event. Photo by Maria Martinez.

I imagined the readings at this event would be from books such as “Fifty Shades of Grey,” or other controversial titles. I never imagined I was going to hear someone read a piece of one of my favorite novel series as a child: “The Adventures of Captain Underpants.” It was a real shock for me. Why would someone want to ban these funny books?

I read every single book of “The Adventures of Captain Underpants” series. This series revolves around two fourth graders and Captain Underpants. Captain Underpants is a superhero from one of the boys’ comic books but he accidentally becomes real when the boys hypnotize their principal. The principal drinks alien juices which transformed him into this superhero.

In my hometown, there was only one small bookstore, and they never had the latest Captain Underpants book. I would beg my dad to take me to San Antonio (which is two hours away from my hometown, Laredo) just to buy a new book of this series. I liked to read these books because they made me laugh so much.

According to the American Library Association one of the reasons Captain Underpants series was banned in some schools was because it encouraged children to disobey authority. I can’t agree with this statement. These books never incited me to behave badly.

“Junie B. Jones” by Barbara Park was another of the novel series they had at the Alkek reading event. I personally never read any “Junie B. Jones” book, but I know my sister and many other kids did. These books are about an elementary school kid that goes through the same things that everyday kids go through. Jones always gets in trouble, but she always learns from her mistakes.  

These books were challenged because of its use of bad grammar and language, the decisions Junie B. Jones makes and some messages the book sends. Park said,

These are some of the books that have been banned across the United States. Photo by Maria Martinez.
These are some of the books that have been banned across the United States. Photo by Maria Martinez.

“If parents feel their own children shouldn’t read them, they should make house rules,” Park told Julie Mitchell of Before It’s News about the banning of “Junie B. Jones”. “They shouldn’t ban them from libraries…”

The American Library Association (ALA) presented in a study conducted in 2014, that parents are the main initiators of challenging books to be banned.

Readers at the event explained why they liked the banned book they were about to read. Almost every one of them said they were reading one of their favorite books as a child and they did not think it was fair for these books to be banned.

My parents didn’t prohibit these innocent books to my sister and I, and we grew up to be normal adults. There is no point in banning innocent children books in schools and libraries. If parents do not want their children to read “inappropriate” books, then just don’t buy them. We need to respect the First Amendment and let authors express their ideas.

Holly Henrichsen

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