By Alexis Redding
The American Library Association’s (ALA) Banned Books Week supports First Amendment rights, taking a stand on literature censorship and the freedom to read.
Banned Books Week is a celebration that was first launched in 1982 by the ALA.
Students, staff and administrators at CSU Bakersfield don’t officially celebrate Banned Books Week or have a history of challenging or banning publications. Several literary works from ALA’s Banned Books Week 2017 list are available for check out at CSUB’s Walter W. Stiern Library.
Gabby Rios, a sophomore nursing major at CSUB, chooses to read books that interest her in between classes.
“I think a person decides what they want to read. So basically, if I want to read that, then I should have the right to read it,” said Rios.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution ensures that citizens cannot be controlled by limiting information that is available to the public.
Stephanie Flores, a junior criminal justice major, noted how the freedom to read is treated by students today.
“I don’t think we should have the right. Well, we should, but at the same time, we shouldn’t. A lot of people don’t read stuff that they will learn from. They will only read stuff that they’re interested in,” said Flores.
Three popular narratives that were recently considered controversial are accessible to students and faculty at CSUB’s library. These narratives include “13 Reasons Why” by Jay Asher and “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn.
Asher’s novel “13 Reasons Why” was made into a series on Netflix. However, since its release on Mar. 31, 2017, the show and the subject of teen suicide it discusses have suffered backlash from audiences.
Sophomore computer science major Robert Carreno said banning the book would not make the issue of suicide go away.
“I believe that the book ‘13 Reasons Why’ shouldn’t have been banned because not only is it true, that kind of stuff does happen in real life. It’s like if you try to ban the book, you are simply trying to cover up the fact that students are bullied and are committing suicide,” said Carreno.
In May 2017, Zinn’s works, including “A People’s History of the United States,” were officially banned from curriculum in public schools under a bill created by Arkansas U.S. Republican Kim Hendren. Hendren and other Arkansas lawmakers said that Zinn’s book, and many of his other public works, misrepresented American history.
According to an article on Common Dreams, in response to this legislation copies were made available for 700 teachers and librarians in Arkansas who wanted to obtain a free copy of “A People’s History of the United States” for their schools.
For more information about Banned Books Week, publishing censorship, or the rights we have under the First Amendment, please visit ALA’s webpage at www.ala.org.