A New Form Of Censorship
It is a whole new form of censorship that most people think, oh, it is just a high school; once they go to college, they will be okay. As soon as a child turns 18, they will suddenly be able to analyze what books are appropriate for their reading levels and understanding even though they have been constricted and censored this whole time. A college library will have all the books they could ever dream of without restriction. But how can you ever learn how to analyze text if you are never allowed to read the ones that challenge your way of thinking the most?
As an educator, the banned book is a struggle because it means, by law, the book cannot be on campus or given out to the students in any shape or form, including as an off-campus recommendation. This hurts our students in ways that we haven’t been able to fully comprehend.
The book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is a narrative about a Native American teenager named Arnold Spirit Jr., a promising 14-year-old cartoonist. The novel has been banned because of the use of profanity, sexual references, and a derogatory term. The book itself handles themes such as identity, race, loss, poverty, isolation, dreams, and hope, all of which are important thoughts and topics that many adolescents face. The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) calls for teachers to teach comprehension skills that “make connections to personal experiences, ideas in other texts, and society….” So why wouldn’t a student want to be allowed to read a book that they may connect with on a personal level? The TEKS calls for this skill, but with each book ban that Texas creates, it becomes harder and harder for the skill to be practiced in school. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a perfect example of a book worth having in class that is stripped away simply because it’s easier to take a book off the shelf than it is for adults to have conversations with teens about their vocabulary and hormones.