A view of the library at Rose State College. Many books that are banned elsewhere in the state can be found here. (Photo by: Michael Palacios)
By Alyx Sabina Senior Staff Writer
It’s library day for the class. Everyone’s sitting “criss-cross applesauce” on a colorful rug, knee to knee with their classmates, excited as the librarian picks a book off the shelf and starts reading. What happens when children no longer have this luxury? Wondering, where did all of the books go?
They’re on the banned book shelf.
Most children are taught to read at a very young age. These stories captivate young minds and teach lessons along the way. However, some of the most memorable books have been removed from shelves. Even some of the most recognizable books, such as “Captain Underpants,” “The Lorax,” “The Giving Tree” and “Charlotte’s Web” have been banned or challenged in various locations for numerous reasons. Those in favor of banned books argue it is for the safety of the children reading them while others call it by its name: censorship.
Andrew Soliven, the coordinator of library reference and instruction at Rose State College, is an ardent defender of banned books. “That’s censorship, and that goes against everything that librarians work for and strive for,” he said. The American Library Association has been vocal in their defense of banned books. In what they call “The Freedom to Read Statement,” the ALA explains.
“The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label ‘controversial’ views, to distribute lists of ‘objectionable’ books or authors and to purge libraries.”–an excerpt from “The Freedom to Read Statement”
In 2005, a children’s book titled “King and King” was challenged by many Oklahoma legislators, calling for the book to be banned from the children’s section of the library. The book tells the story of a prince who falls in love with another prince. Because of its LGBTQ influences, they argued it wasn’t appropriate reading material for children.
“This next generation, how are they going to learn from what’s happened in the past without reading these books?” Soliven asked. Generally, when a book is challenged by an individual or an entity at a K-12 public school district, the complaint goes through the district, and they decide either to ban the book or keep it. Rose State has made it a goal to ensure academic Freedom for all students. “I’ve been at Rose State for about five years, and there hasn’t been one instance where I have had an issue with banned books,” Soliven said.
Book banning carries serious implications for future generations who not only need these stories to read but to help them confront trauma and blossom as human beings. “It’s taking away opportunities for them to read something and identify with it,” Soliven said. “Stories are important. You feel like you’re not alone in the world when you read something you relate to.”