When Kids Ask About Banned Books

Betsy, an early literacy librarian, has a Q and A to explain Banned Books Week to children.

Q: What is a Banned Book?

A: A banned book is one that somebody has asked a library to remove from the shelves so that other people can't read it.

Q: Why would anyone do that?

A: Often, they think that the book will be upsetting (violent or sad, for example) or inappropriate to read. People who try to ban books usually think they are helping.

Q: But should people read upsetting books?

A: It depends. People almost never agree about whether a book is good or bad, upsetting or not. Librarians support the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guarantees the right of every person to choose for themselves what to read. But, many parents will want to help their children decide which books are good to read at particular ages.

Q: Is it good to ban a book?

A: Usually it isn't good. Banning interferes with everyone else's First Amendment right to choose for themselves what to read.

Q: Why do we celebrate Banned Books week?

A: We are really celebrating the Freedom to Read! By looking at books that have been banned or challenged throughout the years, it's easy to see that not everyone agrees about which books are good or bad to read. For example, do you think Where the Wild Things Are should be banned? Some people did because they thought the monsters were too scary for children.

Q: Why is the right to read freely ("intellectual freedom") so important?

A: Did you know that not everyone in the world has the right to choose what they read for themselves? In the United States, though, we are lucky! The First Amendment to our Constitution guarantees our right to read what we choose. Our government is a democracy (controlled by the people). Every person in our country needs to be free to explore all sides of an idea and form their own opinions.

Find more information about Banned Books Week, opens a new window.