Updated: Sep 30, 2019
Have you ever wondered why “Harry Potter” is banned at some public schools? Well, now it's your time to find out. It’s Banned Books Week here at Salisbury University! Books are currently on display on the first floor of the Guerrieri Academic Commons from Sept. 22 to 26. Some of these banned books are “To Kill A Mockingbird,” “Huckleberry Finn“ and even “Winnie the Pooh.”
So what makes a book banned? Research and instructional librarian Caroline Eckardt is well aware of the process as well as the reasoning behind banning a book.
“There are a lot of things that go into banning a book or at least challenging a book. It usually happens within schools or public libraries, and there’s usually pushback against the content in some sort of way," Eckardt said.
There are two terms frequently used when discussing books that are considered too controversial for the public: challenging and banning. When a school or library challenges a book, they are attempting to remove or restrict reading materials, whereas a banning is the full removal of those materials.
"Bans and challenges are really left up to individuals‘ schools, districts, public libraries and other local institutions. Here [at Salisbury University], we’re committed to protecting everyone’s freedom to read," Eckardt stated.
There are many reasons why books may be challenged or banned. Some of these reasons as stated by Eckardt are books featuring topics concerning the LGBTQ+ community, religious viewpoints, misrepresenting minority groups and for including "witchcraft-related propaganda,” which happens to be one of the reasons why the “Harry Potter” series continues to be challenged at public schools around the country.
“There aren’t a ton of books banned for adults. Most of these bans are more skewed toward elementary, middle and high school-aged students. So, for ‘Harry Potter’ in particular, there are any number of reasons that parents or faculty may challenge the series. Their reasoning is usually that there is mention of witchcraft or that it is inappropriate or anti-Christian,” Eckardt said.
There is a misconception around the idea that schools want students not to read banned books, when in reality, this is not the case at all. The whole reasoning behind Banned Books Week is to shine light on books that are either challenged or banned by bringing awareness to these titles.
However, Banned Books Week isn't the only time when students at SU can get their hands on these books.
“During Banned Books Week, we obviously highlight certain titles, but we always have them here in the libaray. They are up in the shelves, and students are always welcome to check them out at any time."
Students interested in learning more about challenged or banned books can also go to Salisbury's pubic library, where there are many titles ready to be checked out. The American Library Association website is a great resource containing information about different titles that have been banned as well as the reasons for why these books have been banned in the first place.
To find more information on challenged and banned books, go to http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks. Make sure to visit the Academic Commons sometime this week to learn more about banned books. Happy reading!
By MELANIE RAIBLE
Featured photos from Melanie Raible.