The Book Banning Battlefield


Lizzie Owens, Contributor

Book challenging and banning have been on the rise this year. Texas and Florida lead the nation with the most challenges and bans, and nearly 300 books have been banned in Missouri since August.

Last year, Matt Krause, a Texas state representative, wrote a letter containing a list of 850 books in Texas school libraries that he wanted to be investigated. After receiving this letter, Texas politicians began taking more interest in the books within Texas school libraries, specifically, books relating to sexuality, race, and abortion.

According to PEN America, Texas school districts have banned 801 books, which is the highest amount in the country. Why is this relevant?

Well, these book bannings have sparked arguments between conservative and liberal readers in Texas. It is also escalating into a political debate between the Republican and Democratic parties. The conservative argument is that certain topics may cause psychological distress in young readers while the liberal argument is that children and young adults have lives outside of their homes and school, where they will be exposed to the topics that are being censored. The books that are being banned educate and enlighten students on uncomfortable subjects that they will inevitably be exposed to, whether it be online or in person.

The arguments and debate have created conflict between elected officials, communities, and librarians as well. Texas librarians reported being harassed and threatened while also being accused of harming their students.

On Monday, November 28th, the Texas Library commission in East Austin discussed the potential impact of recently filed bills on school libraries. House bill 338 calls for publishers to assign ratings to books sold to schools. According to this bill, filed by Tom Oliverson, books can be recalled if their rating isn’t considered correct while also placing an age restriction on students accessing books with content that is considered too mature for them.

Throughout all of this debate, I have found little evidence of students who have come out and said that their library books are causing them psychological distress. Rather, it is parents and politicians that have made the decision to restrict students’ access to literature. Ironically, students are more likely to find graphic content on their phones, rather than their school library, so is banning books really the solution?