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.

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe


Gender Queer
Author: Maia Kobabe
Published: May 28, 2019 by Oni Press

Goodreads Summary: In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

Ricki’s Review: It has taken me a long time to acquire this book. I was on hold for ONE copy that the library had, and there were 126 people ahead of me. That’s the joy in public banning of books—they sell really well. I am always glad that the authors are making money off of the ridiculousness of book banning. Not surprisingly, the book is banned because it is a powerful story. Kobabe beautifully depicts eir memoir in a way that captivates readers. I am better for having read this book. It allowed me to feel as if I was living Kobabe’s story alongside em. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation:
PEN America’s Report
ALA’s Statistics
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Council of Teachers of English’s Intellectual Freedom Center

Discussion Questions: 

  • How did this memoir make you feel? What did you learn?
  • What is the role of gender in the book?
  • How do the images enhance your understanding of the story?
  • Why might people ban the book?

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Student Voices!: Short Essays on Reading and Books by Luis, Star, Paola, Amy, Alex, Maya, Axel, Cooper, & Jacob


The best way to learn what kids are thinking & feeling is by listening to them, so I am happy to share my students’ voices!

Why Teachers Should Let Students Read Manga by Luis, 8th Grade

Mrs. Moye let me read manga for most of the year. I read a huge variety of awesome mangas, but some teachers don’t like manga for different reasons. But I feel like I have the right to read whatever I want. Manga isn’t just fighting cartoons, some of them have a better plot than books. For example, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has a better vampire plot than other vampire books out there. Some have great love stories or more realistic action. Manga is truly something that teachers should let their students read and enjoy. And who knows–they may even learn Japanese!

Why 6th Graders Should Be Allowed to Read More Mature Books If They Want by Star, 6th Grade

I believe 6th graders should be allowed to read more mature books. It allows the kids to venture into a world they still have a while to actually enter. They allow kids to feel more emotions, such as sadness in love. For example, in the book The Fault in our Stars by John Green, Hazel and Augustus express such love for each other despite their differences. And when something sad happens at the end of the book, it causes the reader to be sad. Another reason 6th graders should be allowed to read more mature books is because they get kids into more real world situations before they have to experience it themselves. For example, in the book Orbiting Jupiter the author throws the reader into a real life situation. 

Why We Shouldn’t Ban Books by Paola & Amy, 7th Grade

Book banning: The horrible act of taking a book deemed “inappropriate” for students and then restricting access to that book. This has been done for years and many people actually think that this helps keep children from certain material. While it actually causes problems. 

It Keeps Important Topics Away From Kids

The biggest problem with banning books is that most of the banned books talk about very important social topics. While many people think that exposing kids to these topics will hurt them, the opposite can actually be said. The more kids learn about these topics, the better educated they are. They could then form their own opinions and even come up with ideas to help other people. Additionally, by keeping these materials away from teens and kids, they might make bad decisions because they’ve never thought about it. And by banning the books, people are making the topics more intriguing.

Why I Like Books About Social Justice by Alex, 8th Grade

I think that social justice books are the best to read for multiple reaasons. One big reason is that social justice is a very relevant topic that goes on daily, whether between a cop and an unarmed man or people of different races experiencing racial tension. I think that no matter what the situation is, it’s always interesting to see it unfold. After reading a book that deals with heavy teantion, I like to put myself in that persn’s shoes and think about how I would have handled the situation. Another reason why I believe that social justice books are interesting is because I have never had to deal with much oppression in my life which is why I think it is good to learn about other people that have dealt with oppression beacuse it makes me feel like I am not ignorant about the situations in our society. Just because I don’t deal with  them, doesn’t mean I should know about them. 

My top social justice books:

  • Ghost by Jason Renolds
  • I Am Alfonso Jones
  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  • Yummy by G. Neri
  • All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Why I Like K.A. Holt Books by Maya, 6th Grade

My first ever K.A. Holt book that I read was House Arrest, and ever since then, I have fallen in love with her writing. After I read House Arrest, I read Knockout, Redwood & Ponytail, and Rhyme Schemer. I love how her books are written like a verse of a poem because not many authors write the way she does and it captures emotions. I also love how in House Arrest she wrote the book over weeks to follow along. Also, I love that House Arrest, Knockout, and Redwood & Ponytail are in a series but you don’t have to read them in a certain order. Redwood & Ponytail was an amazing book to me; it has an important message which is never be afraid to show who you are no matter what others think. Thank you, K.A. Holt, for writing amazing books!

Reasons Why I Like Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Axel, 6th Grade

I like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series because it is fun to know how Greg lives his life and learn about him. It also includes comedy which makes me laugh time to time while reading it. Greg’s family is really funny and weird and sometimes do embarrassing things which is fun to read about. Greg and Rowley do funny things too–usually activities for their own purposes that always end up as a disaster because Greg tries to imagine how to make everything perfect for him and when he tries to make it perfect, something goes wrong. All of these are why I like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series. Oh! And every year a new book comes out, and so far each one I’ve read is great!

Book Stereotypes That Are NOT TRUE! by Cooper & Jacob, 6th Grade and Mrs. Moye

  • There are girl and boy books.
    • This stereotype has lasted for many years and is still believed vy people. There is no such thing as a girl or a boy book. 
  • Long books are boring
    • Long books are not boring because a long book just has more action and fun in it. 
  • Graphic novels are for children.
    • Graphic novels are for everyone. They have life lessons and the images bring it all together. 
  • Books are the same as movies.
    • Movies have to cut things out because of time. To get the full story, you have to read the book. 
  • Cool kids don’t read/Only nerds read.
    • Smart people read.
  • Judge books by their cover.
    • The cover isn’t even chosen by the author and sometimes covers are so misleading!
  • Non-fiction books are boring.
    • Then you aren’t reading the right nonfiction books for you! Try a different kind. 
  • “I don’t have time to read.”
    • Yes you do. You aren’t making time to read. Just 20 minutes a day can impact your life in such a positive way!
  • Children’s books aren’t good.
    • Any children’s book will prove this wrong because they have a huge impact on the reader. 
  • Independent reading doesn’t help you learn anything./Books are a waste of money.
    • Books can help the reader learn! Instead of playing and buying video games, buy books!

Thank you everyone for your great essays!


Guest Post: The Most Banned and Challenged Books of the Past Five Years


From Olivia Biggs (Senior Editor, Pixl Parade, Find her on Twitter): Did you know that some books have actually been banned in America? That’s right! Even in the land of the free, parents and educators have been known to push popular books out of libraries and schools, some of which later became required reading. Even today, thousands of parents petition and challenge popular books for a variety of reasons, both reasonable and unreasonable. This infographic takes a deeper look at the most banned and challenged books of the past 5 years, and why they were challenged in the first place!

The recent library problem child is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, which, due to the recent Netflix series inspiring instances of self-harm among young adults, met an uproar from parents in 2017, despite the fact that the book has been around for about ten years.

Another book upsetting parents is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, which discusses poverty, alcohol, violence, sexuality, and bullying. It’s a critical darling, wining numerous awards and high reviews, but that doesn’t stop parents from trying to pull it from shelves a decade after its release.

An increasing and uncomfortable number of books under attack have LGBTQ+ content, gender identity themes, and transgender characters. These themes might make parents uncomfortable, but their fairly necessary for making a younger generation of LGBTQ+ teens comfortable with themselves.

Don’t worry about banned books being uncomfortable. If you’re worried about recommending troublesome books for required reading, just look at top 10 most banned books of all time, which includes classics from 1984 to Of Mice and Men to The Great Gatsby – all known to be required reading for high school students!

Books expand our horizons, teach us how to think in different ways, and show us totally different perspectives, as they should. Banning books doesn’t allow people to experience new thoughts and ideas! Let’s all do better by allowing us to be more open to each other and not allowing books to be banned from libraries and schools.

Speak Out! For Banned Books #BannedBooksWeek



This week is Banned Books Week (hooray!). Banned Books Week is one of my favorites. I always find it helpful to talk first about how books are classically banned. This video from ALA is great:

This often leads well into a question and answer period where we talk through why certain topics appear often on banned books lists. Next, I show the following infographics, which I find helpful. The first one is a bit dated, but it is beautifully done.

For more banned books infographics and fun graphics, in general, click here!

We had a great discussion today about where politics belong in the classroom. Students offered some phenomenal comments about how they could be fair in their presentation of politics but also show they didn’t support hateful speech. In past years, I’ve had students read popular banned picture books to talk through how and why books are banned. This has proven very effective as well.

We always end by talking through the many resources available to teachers. These include those available on NCTE’s Intellectual Freedom Center. If you haven’t checked this out (or ILA’s comparable resource center), I recommend these resources highly.

Happy reading! Let’s celebrate our FREEDOM TO READ!