Nicole Clapp

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

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

In my literacy class, we were assigned to find a topic and create a documentary. I chose censorship, because it was a broad topic that could easily be researched. I didn’t know much about it other than it was a problem in the world. I had no strong opinions towards it and didn’t think it was really that big of a deal. I was reading the book “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” because I had seen the movie a few months before and never got around to read the book. I saw it in my classroom library and decided to read it!

My teacher, Dr. Bruno, saw me reading the book and told me that our district had banned the book and I wasn’t supposed to be reading it. I was really angry that someone I didn’t know (the school board voters) had taken away MY book because they didn’t think it was right for me! I am a very strong person who is not afraid to say what I think so I knew I had to do something.

I like to think that it was fate, that I was reading the book that was being banned and had just finished a project on censorship! I had absolutely no idea that there was any talk of removing the book. It was such a shock, but it was a sign that I was needed to be doing something about it. 

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?

Taking a book out of a school, library or any community is wrong. Taking away a learning opportunity from a student, child or adult is wrong. It should not be decided by some authority figure that believes they can “save” people from reality, which was the problem in my case. Many people in my town thought it was not a big deal to take a book out of the classroom library because “they can bring their own copy from home and read it at school.” A lot of people who live in the unincorporated part of my town don’t have extra money lying around to purchase the book, or even a library card. If any book is removed from our library they don’t have access to great opportunities that so many books can offer.

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

I think it is so important because we can come together to stop them.

Who inspires you? Who is your hero?

My hero is an actress named Lucy Hale. She is such an inspiration because she came from a small town in Tennessee to Los Angeles and she was able to achieve her dream of acting and singing. She is all about empowering girls and women to do what they love, and to stand up for what they believe in. She shows me how to stay positive, and I owe her so much for that. Some of my dreams are to be able to help other kids be able to stand up for what they believe in, whether it is a book ban in their town, or anything else.