Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides Us

Published: September 27, 2022

By Jim Lichtman
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“The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries. — Rene Descartes, 16th century French Mathematician

While I talked about this earlier this month, we need reminders . . . a lot of reminders.

Last week was Banned Books Week. It’s hard to imagine an America—a country that places free speech at the top of its list of amendments to the Constitution—where more books are being banned than in previous years, largely throughout conservative communities.

Here are just a few of the top 50 books that have been banned at one time or another in public schools:

The Catcher in the Rye; The Color Purple; Gone with the Wind; To Kill a Mockingbird; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; The Adventures of Captain Underpants; Anne Frank, the Diary of a Young Girl; Carrie; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; The Great Gatsby; The Hunger Games; Goosebumps; James and the Giant Peach; A Wrinkle in Time.

The American Federation of Teachers placed a full-page ad in newspapers around the country making its case against the banning of books, and for this vital part of education.

“Reading is a foundational skill critical to our children’s future learning and to exercise of democratic freedoms. Banning books is dangerous—it’s government censorship and an erosion of our country’s commitment to free expression.

“During Banned Books Week, America’s educators, parents, librarians, historians, civil rights leaders, and others are coming together to celebrate reading and the importance of intellectual freedom, and to urge extremist politicians to stop dictating what everyone can read

“Parents make decisions for their own kids, and particularly in our public schools and libraries, we need to protect the ability of young people to have universal access to books that will help them learn about and understand different perspectives and help them grow into adults who can think for themselves. . . .

“Books unite us, and censorship divides us.”

The signatories to the statement represent a diverse group with the goal of making society more tolerant, inclusive and responsible.

The American Association of School Libraries, AFL-CIO (America’s unions), American Library Association, Freedom to Read Foundation, Indivisible, MoveOn, NAACP, PFLAG.org, Gladd, National Council for Social Studies, National Council of Teachers of English, Pen America Parents Together Action, Unite Against Book Bans.

Books not only offer history and facts, they foster good citizenship, civic duty, responsibility, and trust, and are absolutely vital in developing critical thinking for tomorrow’s leaders.

When we read books of courage, we are inspired to be courageous. Books of hope, inspire hope. Books that discuss forgiveness open ourselves to forgive others as well as ourselves. And when we read books that challenge us to think, we are encouraged to think for ourselves.

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