Banned Books Week: Our right to read, September 24-30, 2017

Maddie Giffin

One of the dedicated group of students fought to keep "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" in schools
Glenbard West High School
Glen Ellyn, Ill

How did you hear about the book challenge in your community and why did you take action?

About a month before the week of the meeting, I was going through some of the petitions I get sent to sign and found on regarding the banning of The Perks of Being a Wallflower in Glen Ellyn! I signed the petition and hoped for the best. Then time passed, and I was sitting at the table in my best friend, Maddie Howard’s, house when Mrs.Howard brought up the subject to us. She educated the both of us on what both sides are doing, (the people against and for the banning,) and added enough information to captivate my full attention. At that moment I devoted how ever long it took to unban The Perks of Being a Wallflower. What really turned me was the sentimental value that the book stored for me. When I was hitting a rough point in my life, I read this book for the first time and I can honestly say it helped me by giving me someone to relate to while also giving me a fictional trio of teens who I longed for to be non-fictional. I would never deny a group of pre-teens/teens a book that could possibly help them the exact same way that it helped me. Another factor that led me to this challenge would be the fact that a district wants to reject a piece of literature. Sometimes the reason they do is because a very small group of people believe it to be wrong, and possibly those who have only seen the movie and have never read a page of Stephen Chbosky’s book. Some reasons behind their opinion were religion, innocence, and a lack of information of the subject. I understand the innocence part mainly because I know everyone experiences things differently in a lifetime but that still does not pose as a valid argument towards banning it from those who have experienced more at younger ages. People should not relate religion to this book and then suggest their beliefs on a group of people who don’t see this book the same way they do. There are a lot of people in the world and if one small group of people are trying to press their belief on a larger audience with misinformation, they’re only going to be proved wrong. And we did.

You can get books at the library or store, why should we care about a book being removed from one class of students or one community?

Like I said before, I would never want to deny even one person the right to be helped by a piece of unique literature. The convenience of it all and the banning is why I cared. I don’t believe in censorship. No acceptions. I don’t stand for it because I don’t believe in anything that was created for a purpose. The world is unique and everything is given a sense of place. Everything. Everything appears different to different people. Take conservatives for an example, obviously The Perks of Being a Wallflower may pose as a book for those who worship the devil but liberalists may view it as just a piece of art that illustrated the story of a boy who was hitting his rough patch in life. That’s where the lines are drawn and that’s how the book was banned from the school to some extent. Now when I said convenience, I meant the convenience of being able to walk down the hall library and be able to have access to this book whenever a student pleases. Obviouly in middleschool, you may not have a car and going to the library may be a problem when parents are working and aren’t around to drive you to pick up your favorite book. This is why the school libraries were created and that’s why Perks of Being a Wallflower should be easily accessible to anyone.

Why do you think being aware of book challenges or bans is important to our country today?

Freedom of speech. And the freedom to read whatever the hell you please. The U.S is a very diverse country and contains wide varieties of people who like different kinds of books. When one group finds a book innapropriate or impure, it shouldn’t be that group of peoples decision to determine what another group of people read. We need more people to fight for what they want because people can’t read minds and one human being doesn’t always know how significant one thing means to another human being. That’s why we need to speak out loud. Teens these days don’t seem to care what our world will turn into and it’s very sad that some teens don’t even get a say into what their world will look like when they grow old. Addressing a situation and giving input is something more teens need to find important because it lets other people know what they want. Book challenges and bans are a great output for inserting ones opinion becuase literature is something many people tend to be passionate about.

Who inspires you? Who is your hero?

I’m going to go with the stereotypical answer of saying my own mother inspires me. She is also my hero as well. She does so much and I have no idea how she does it. She’s a very determined women and is extremely empathetic to others. She loves to support people and build up others confidence and it helped me a lot through out this whole Perks of Being a Wallflower fight. She’s very confident herself and doesn’t mind what others think of her and is the one who taught me and always reminds me that everyone and everything is different in their own beautiful ways.