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Banning books the wrong call

Posted 2/18/22

Challenging young minds is one of the most rewarding things we can do as adults. One way that can be done is by requiring stude nts to read wonderful and impactful books that pose difficult or, at …

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Banning books the wrong call

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Challenging young minds is one of the most rewarding things we can do as adults. One way that can be done is by requiring stude nts to read wonderful and impactful books that pose difficult or, at times, uncomfortable situations.

As adults, we should be there to assist youngsters — whether they be our children, grandchildren or our student — in understanding challenging material and putting it into perspective, both in terms of the time period in which the book was written and also why it’s a relevant topic today. The one thing we should not do is call for a classic such as Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” to be entirely banned from a school district, as is happening with other classical works that touch on uncomfortable topics.

Yet that’s exactly what’s happening in one West Virginia county, as some parents in Berkeley County have called for a ban on Morrison’s book after their 10th-grade daughter raised concerns over some of its content.

“The Bluest Eye” is set in 1941 and follows an 11-year-old Black girl growing up in Ohio during the Depression. The main character, Pecola Breedlove, desires blue eyes so she no longer will feel ugly. She suffers from abuse and at one point, is raped by her father — a sequence that is hard for anyone of any age to fully comprehend.

But that doesn’t mean the book should be banned. Critics say it is a deep work that helps us today to better understand what life was like and the challenges faced by some Black families during a very difficult time in our nation’s history — both from an economic standpoint and also from a social and cultural standpoint.

Instead of calling for its ban, parents should be sparking discussions on such readings with their children. That means, particularly for parents, that there needs to be an active involvement in your children’s education and an understanding that they need to be challenged so that they can learn and grow.

We understand that some writings can be uncomfortable, but that doesn’t justify banning a book. “The Bluest Eye” is available on the Mid-York Library System website.

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