English professor Jack Grier addressed his English Teaching Methods class on the first day of school with a piece of advice for the three aspiring high school English teachers. He told us that “the only bad word in the English language is censorship.”
His statement was very intriguing to me, as I sat listening with my two peers in the intimate setting of Kirby 103, wondering what this experienced teacher with the unicorn bicep tattoo might mean by his seemingly rebellious announcement. Professor Grier’s insight on the issues of censorship in schools is becoming clear to me now, as a future educator, and as I prepare for Banned Book Week with my fellow members of Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society.
The Wilkes University chapter of Sigma Tau Delta will hold a Banned Book Reading, in honor of Banned Book Week, at noon on Tuesday, Sept. 29, on the steps of Kirby Hall.
According to the American Library Association, “Banned Book Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information.” This week designated to controversial literature calls attention to how harmful censorship is to students whose schools are preventing them from reading what could be very educational and culturally informative books.
As many educational books get banned from schools, educators, librarians, parents and readers take a stand by challenging the unacceptable censorship to the Office of Intellectual Freedom.
The official website for Banned Book Week notes that since 1982, when Banned Book Week began, more than 11,300 banned books were reportedly challenged to the Office of Intellectual Freedom. In 2014, there were 311 books reportedly challenged.
Number three on the list of most challenged books in 2014 is a 2005 children’s picture book written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, called And Tango Makes Three. The book tells the true story of a couple of male penguins who were given an egg to hatch by another male-female couple who had two eggs and could not take care of both. The male couple named their chick Tango, hence the title of the book.
Reasons for banning this heartwarming children’s story include the story being allegedly “anti-family,” and “promoting the homosexual agenda,” according to the official website of Banned Book Week. These are just two of the many ridiculous reasons why this book has been banned from schools instead of focusing on the book’s heartwarming message.
Number eight on the most challenged list of 2014 might be familiar to young adult readers and movie buffs. Steven Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower has been banned for “drugs/alcohol/smoking,” “offensive language,” and “date rape and masturbation,” to name a few.
Banning such educational and culturally and emotionally eye-opening literature is a disservice to our students that Banned Book Week aims to call attention to.