Recognizing Banned Books Week 2022 at K-State

Banned Books Week 2022 (Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association)

“People tried to ban The House on Mango Street!?”

Yes, as ridiculous as it may sound. It was challenged due to themes of racism, sexuality, and poverty. My friend recently read the long and daunting list of challenged books. He was more than surprised to say the least.

Unfortunately, The House on Mango Street is not the first nor will it be the last book to be challenged.

In 2021, the American Library Association reported more than 729 attempts to ban or restrict library resources, and 1,597 individual books were targeted. Now with three months left in 2022, the rate of book challenges is set to exceed the 2021 record.

Why do the numbers continue to increase?

The increase of challenged books can be connected to polarizing politics. A large portion of books that have been challenged or banned focus on topics such as gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and racism. Texas holds the most bans nationwide followed by Pennsylvania, Florida, and Oklahoma. These states hold more conservative values within their communities which inherently affects school districts and the content they teach. According to ALA, parents challenge books more than any other group; however, this does not exempt lawmakers and school board officials who do so as well.

Because of the targets on these books, some classrooms are unable to discuss topics like Critical Race Theory, sexism, and racism. Rather than being used as a tool to support and enlighten students, books are now being villainized and censored for representing the silenced voices within our country.

Is there anything we, as K-State students, can do to help?

Yes! The best way to fight censorship is to stay informed. There is a variety of newsletters and campaigns, such as Unite Against Book Bans, that take a stand against book bans nationwide.

There are many different ways to help advocate for banned and challenged books closer to home, too. You can attend Banned Books Week programs on campus, or at local libraries, schools, and bookstores. Or discuss the importance of unrestricted reading with friends or family.

Finally, go check out a banned book and support the authors. Exercise your reading rights!

For more information and resources, visit the American Library Association website at https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks.

— Evelyn Garcia, Sigma Tau Delta President (B.A. ’23)

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