Earlier this week, a southwest Missouri school board voted to ban two books from curriculum because a parent complained that the books’ content promoted ideas contrary to the Bible, but officials say their decision was based mainly on age-appropriateness. Officials at Republic High School banned Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five because of crude language and adult themes. They similarly nixed Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer for sexual promiscuity, drunkenness, crude language and lying to parents, according to a recent article by The Associated Press.
Also in question was Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, which includes a description of a rape. Board members, however, allowed the book to remain in classrooms because of its strong message.
Opponents of a ban on certain books claim it’s a form of censorship, but banning books is nothing new. Here’s a list of other well-known books that have been banned:
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Commonly challenged in school curriculum because of its use of a racial slur, the New York City Board of Education banned Twain’s classic from elementary and junior high schools in 1957. A Waukegan, Ill. school district banned the book entirely in 1984. The book has earned attention this year after publishers decided to replace a word in new editions.
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
In 1986, a school board in Graves County, Ken., banned Faulkner’s tale of a grim and darkly humorous journey through the South because of questionable references to God and abortion and offensive language.
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Administrators at a Tulsa, Okla., high school banned the book from classroom curriculum in 1960 after firing a teacher for using it in his 11th-grade class. In Columbus, Ohio, administrators deemed the book “anti-white,” and one library banned it for containing vulgar language, sexual scenes, violence and other questionable moral issues.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The parent of a student at West Marion High School in Mississippi complained about the language in Bradbury’s book about banning books. Administrators removed the book from the school’s reading list in 1998.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Kansas City and St. Louis were just two of the cities with libraries or schools that banned this book in 1939. People at the East St. Louis, Ill. library even set fire to some copies.
What do you think about banning certain books from public school curriculum? It is necessary to ensure that content is appropriate and not negatively influencing today’s students? Or is it an unnecessary form of censorship in education?
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