By Lea Shores
Staff reporter

What do To Kill a Mockingbird, Harry Potter, Junie B. Jones, and Fahrenheit 451 all have in common?

All of these books are on the American Library Association’s list of the top 100 most banned or challenged books in 2000 through 2009.

Banned Book Week is observed yearly during the last week of September. The Winfield Public Library sponsored several read outs through the week to raise awareness about censorship. The library provided books from the ALA’s list of banned books for participants to read from for an hour.

It can be hard to believe that books in the core curriculum of most schools are not allowed in others. Stacy Harkness, English senior, said, “It surprised me how many children’s books there were and that there were Dr. Seuss books.”

In America, where we have the freedom of speech, how is it possible that schools and libraries are banning books?

John Scaggs, associate professor of English, said, “In the United States, these bans tend to occur when school boards prohibit a book from being taught in their school or in their school district.”

According to the ALA website, parents account for 6,010 of the nearly 9,000 challenges in the last 15 years. Books are banned for a number of reasons such as violence, sex, political views and unsuitability for an age group.

“Books are banned more for surface reasons than actual content,” said Scaggs.

One of the most notable books about the topic of censorship is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. “Fahrenheit 451 is a novel about book burning. It’s saying we shouldn’t do this,” said Scaggs. “Books are knowledge. Just because beliefs don’t tally with our own doesn’t mean we should ban them.”

It is ironic that Fahrenheit 451 was number 69 on the ALA’s list of most challenged books this decade.

According to Scaggs, book banning does not get national attention because the bans happen on a local level. “Those localized instances, you can argue, are the ones that can actually have an enormous impact on a society,” he said.

“I hope that people realize, writing, any type of writing, can be a way to express yourself, to go against the grain,” said Harkness. “Sometimes people may not like it but you have the right to say it.”

Lea Shores is a senior majoring in English. You may e-mail her at lea.shores@sckans.edu.