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Banned Books Week holds an impact on October first through seventh of 2023.
Claire Pellett
English teacher Allison Berryhill has had to preview every new book she adds to her classroom library. Many students read books contained in her classroom.

“Banning books gives us silence when we need speech. It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight,” said the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chobsky. Banned Books Week is Oct. 1-7, and has existed since 1982, when a surge of banning books occurred in schools, libraries, and communities.
Freshman Jaylynn Rosenbaum read one of the banned books, The Hate You Give, and said, “The banning of books shelters us from important topics that should be talked about such as drug abuse, sexual assault, and other sensitive subjects.” Such themes were sheltered in the book, such as “police brutality and racism” according to Rosenbaum. “The banning of books has a negative impact on me and my peers,” she said.
The American Library Association (ALA) recognizes this week and the books that have been banned from schools “in order to inform the public about censorship efforts that affect libraries and schools.” The ALA official site also states: “The ALA condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information.” This portrays the true meaning behind banning books: censorship. According to NPR, there has been a 20% increase in book banning during the first eight months of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022. In the NPR story, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom said, “These attacks on our freedom to read should trouble every person who values liberty and our constitutional rights.”

I think every book has a lesson to be learned and banning that is the very opposite of what our country should stand for in terms of freedom.

— Genevieve McCalla

The Banned Books Week website displays many effects banned books have on people and communities. It has a variety of articles exploring the topic, such as an article titled, LET FREEDOM READ During Banned Books Week 2023! This discusses the ALA-announced theme for Banned Books Week this year. In 2023, the theme is “Let Freedom Read!” which was chosen because it “captures what’s at stake for our democracy: that the safety of our right to speak and think freely is directly in proportion to our right to read.”
AHS Senior Genevieve McCalla reflected on the influx of banned books. McCalla said, “I don’t think that books should be banned, period. I think that every book has a lesson to be learned and banning that is the very opposite of what our country should stand for in terms of freedom.” McCalla grew up learning lessons from books and “picturing a world where kids can grow up not learning those same lessons scares me.”

BYE BYE BOOKS – Books such as “Gender Queer: A Memoir” have been banned on the shelves of many schools and libraries. The main theme of this book is identity and finding yourself. (Alix Nath)

This week impacts AHS in many ways, and articles from the American Civil Liberties Union and PEN America give different lists of banned and challenged books, in both Iowa and the US as a whole. These lists include books such as The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas, Gender Queer: A Memoir by Mia Kobabe, and even The Perks of Being a Wallflower by before-mentioned author Stephen Chobsky. These books explore themes such as racism, identity, and tolerance, yet were all banned because of “explicit information” represented in the stories.

Banned Books Week has had a significant impact on students this year. Specifically with the possible implementation of Senate File 496. If passed, this will require certain books to be removed from school libraries if they contain information deemed inappropriate. This would put further pressure on school systems to abide by this ban and remove more books from their shelves.

*This story has been edited for clarity.

For additional information, consider reading this previous story.

New Law Restricts Identity Expression

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About the Contributor
Alix Nath, AHS Needle Editor
Alix Nath is a junior editor for the senior magazine and AHS Needle who likes to “dabble in a little bit of everything”, including The Javelin. Nath credits their brother Felix Nath, a 2022 AHS graduate, as the biggest inspiration for why they joined the journalism program. Nath’s proudest journalism accomplishment is their work on the senior magazine during their sophomore year. They made several writing contributions, major edits that aided the production of the magazine, and felt “really proud of how [the senior magazine] ended up because of the effort everyone put into it.” Nath’s journalism work strives to capture the “things you wouldn’t normally see,” shining extra light on the behind-the-scene processes of well-known events. Their tendency to dabble goes further than journalism. Nath is an active participant in AHS theatre - usually working as crew or tech, - speech and debate, concert band, marching band as a member of the color guard, and QSA. They draw happiness from school activities as well as their three cats and two dogs. A quote that would describe Nath and their passions best is, “I’m not always the best at things, but I try my best at things.”   By J. Molina

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