WHAT THE ACLU IS DOING
Many people have no idea that schools continue to ban books today… And not just books with overtly adult sex, violence, or language.
No, we’re talking about Young Adult fiction, a major influence of pop culture. We’re talking about the same books that inspire reading in younger generations in unprecedented numbers. That’s no small feat with more competition than ever for children’s and teens’ attention from TV, video games, the internet.
Did you know that Harry Potter books, the Twilight series, To Kill a Mockingbird, Flowers for Algernon, and Catcher in the Rye (assigned as part of many high school English classes) have been banned or challenged in Texas schools in the last decade?
The ACLU of Texas Banned Books Project exists:
— To raise awareness about book challenges and the banning of books in public school libraries across the state;
— To encourage school officials to use professional librarian standards when confronted with a challenge, and;
— To encourage ACLU affiliates, library associations, and public interest groups to conduct surveys in their states.
Every year, we send out requests to every school district and most charter schools in Texas. We ask for basic information on whether books have been banned or restricted, and what mechanisms schools use before pulling a book from their library shelves or school curriculum. Roughly 75 percent responded to our survey.
You can read more about our results in this year’s report. We do this – year in, year out – so we can monitor what’s going on with censorship in our communities. If we note a trend towards censorship or a tendency to remove books without a review process, we try to engage the school in a dialogue and let community members know what’s going on.
We don’t believe that one parent should have the right to dictate what’s accessible to the entire student body. We believe children’s interest in reading should be encouraged, and the pro’s and con’s regarding banning of a book deserve careful consideration.