Student Voices: “The Issue with Banning Books” by Toby B., 8th Grade


“The Issue with Banning Books” by Toby Briggs, 2022-23 8th Grader

Banning books is an argument that has been going on for years and years. Over two thousand years actually. This argument is an argument on whether certain books are suitable for children. Books with LGBTQ+ representation, magic, racism, and slurs are typically the victim of this act. Some of these books are The Hate You Give (by Angie Thomas),Melissa (by Alex Gino), Gender queer: a memoir (by Maia Kobabe), Maus (by Art Spigelman), and The Diary of Anne Frank. This is only a small example of banned books today in America. The reason books are banned and challenged is to limit thinking and to censor beliefs that other people do not support. Books help children develop empathy and to open themselves up to people, places, cultures, and world views. Banning these books could narrow down how these kids think and respect other people.The act of banning books is the top example of American censorship. People fear that the contents of a book would sway a child to follow suit in violent acts or sexual activities. This act is violating first amendment rights as an American citizen to have free speech. 

Reading is supposed to teach and inspire people as well as encouraging to think about what is around you. With the recent acts of trying to ban these books it is clear that state officials want to eradicate thinking that is different from their own beliefs. They want to hide away books that can encourage people to question everything around them or books that encourage people to be themselves. They want to eradicate a generation of thinkers and supportive people. They want to eradicate anything that is outside of what they deem the correct way. 

The category with the highest percentage of books banned are novels. While the lowest percentage is textbooks. No matter what type of category a book fits in to it is not free from being banned. 4.28% of religious texts are banned. That is more than poetry books are manuals. No matter what kind of book type it is if it does not fit in the agenda of state officials it is banned. 41% of books with LGBTQ+ representation are banned. 40% of books with a person of color being the main character are banned. 

The main argument that pro book banning bring up when talking about banned books is it’s for the children. We are doing this to protect the welfare of children. Banning books about people different from a child is not protecting children it is censoring amazing books with representation on minorities, past occurrences of our history, and books that have racist ideas or violent actions. I am not saying a 5 year old should read a young adult book but i am saying books with people of color and people apart of the LGBTQ+ need to be represented to young children so that it can help teach them important lesson on people that are different from them and how to respect those people. A study that was done in 2014 by Christopher J. Fergason shows how reading banned books can be good for kids. People believe that if a kid that is exposed to a book with violent or sexual content that a kid would try something along those lines. However that is not always the case. Reading banned books can increase they’re awareness of civic awareness and engagement. The study by Fergason shows this and how reading can provide ethical development in children.

I believe every parent has a right to not let they’re child read a book they believe is unsuitable for their age. However, I do not believe that people should ban books just because you don’t find it appropriate. Most of the books on the banned books list are books people believe are unsuitable for children. Some of those books have amazing messages and representation for children. But they are banned because people believe kids shouldn’t read them. Books with people like me living their truth are banned because of someone else’s opinions. Books with minorities who just want to be represented being stripped of that right. 

I am  a young reader who has been reading since kindergarten. I have learned most of what i know from the books I have read. I am also a part of the LGBTQ+ community. I have read books upon books with representation of people and kids who are like me and there is nothing better than reading a book that makes you feel like you can belong. Books that make you feel like your any other kid. However most of these books are banned due to pro book banning. I want people to be able to hear my voice, to hear what I have to say about banning books with representation on people like me. The act of banning books is stripping away representation of people like me and other minorities from books. People need to know what people have gone through but also who they are now. Books have made me feel accepted when I believe no one else would accept me. Books are my escape from everything that is wrong with the world. Please don’t ban books with representation we need those books. 

Banning books has no outcome other than to stop a generation from growing up to be thinkers and being kind. Banning books is hiding away multiple generations of books with messages of our history as well as messages of being kind and curious. The act of banning books does not help anyone other than the people who want to ban them. It helps no one but themselves. We need representation in books and banning those books aren’t going to help. This is why I believe there is a massive issue with banning books. Nothing good comes from it.

Thank you so much to Toby for sharing their voice today and their outlook on the banning of books.

1 thought on “Student Voices: “The Issue with Banning Books” by Toby B., 8th Grade”

  1. This is such a powerful argument, Toby, and I really appreciate you sharing it with us! Seeing attempts to ban books that contain much-needed representation scares me, and my hope is that no matter what happens on this front, other sources of books like public libraries will pick up the slack and get these stories into kids’ hands, where they belong. I’m excited to be reading Gender Queer: A Memoir right now—it being banned made me suspect it would be a powerful read, and it is! Thank you again for your thoughtful post, and thank you, Kellee for sharing it with us!


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