Censorship, Banned Books, and Intellectual Freedom

I’ve been living in a cave regarding censorship and banned books. I’ve been operating under the assumption that in the digital age where students have unlimited access to the Internet, there would be less censorship for them than past generation. Why restrict access to library books when kids can just download them on their phone?

When I spoke to a group of high school students last month, they asked me questions that alerted me to this important issue, and now I see it everywhere. As an author of YA books on sensitive topics (suicide, depression, teen pregnancy, anorexia, drinking) that the intellectual freedom police would likely target, this is deeply concerning.

In a recent article about restricted access or removed library materials, the top 10 YA books that were challenged and banned include:

  • “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher – because it discusses suicide
  • “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie (a National Book Award Winner) – because it acknowledges issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality—as well as uses profanity

I’m doomed. Two of my books fit into these categories.

The only good thing to come from banning books is that it drives popularity. What’s better than forbidden fruit, right? If it’s banned, it must be good. If you’ll look at the Banned Books that Shaped America, you’ll see some titles that have become some of our literary staples:

  • “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury – a personal favorite of mine
  • “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck
  • “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I’m going to mark the restricted books into my 2018 reading list.

What about you? What are your thoughts on censorship, banned books, and intellectual freedom?