Parkersburg Community Faced with Book Censorship


Anna Earl

“The Hate U Give” is available in the PHS library. The book has remained unchallenged at PHS.

As time progresses, Americans have become more and more divided on important topics and censorship is right at the center. Lately members of the community have been challenging books at the local library. These books include “More Happy than Not” by Adam Silvera, which is being challenged because of its depiction of an oral sex scene, and “Rumble” by Ellen Hopkins which contains bullying, cyberbullying and suicide. “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe is being challenged at the Wood County Public Library because it contains images of nudity.

So what does challenging a book mean? The definition from the American Library Association is “a challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials based on an objection from a person or group which will lead to the banning of the books.”

So why is this a big deal? Removing books from the library and in schools has a profound impact on children. Many banned books teach about important issues from racism to LGBTQ+. Removing them means that children will no longer have access to the books unless they have the money to buy them for themselves. An example of just one frequently banned book is “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. In this book, Starr Carter is a black teenager who is just trying to live her life. After her childhood best friend is shot by police officers, Starr begins to protest against the racism and police brutality faced by people of color. The book follows her as she fights against injustice. The book has been challenged and banned in school districts in Texas, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and others because of obscene language. Most people would agree that obscene language is used by the majority of the population on a daily basis. Almost every book I have ever read uses at least one “inappropriate word” so why is it that books that peacefully raise awareness about important issues become banned or challenged?

Many of the individuals who have been challenging books at the library are part of a national group dedicated to removing books from the library which contain important issues such as mental health and sexuality. They pull the books off of one website and challenge it word for word from the site, giving them the ability to ban the book without reading it.

Awareness is key for stopping the censorship of books. The next time a book is challenged, the best way to protect it is for the community to speak at a City Council meeting.