Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Maya Angelou. What do these writers have in common? Not only are they all great American authors, but their great pieces of literature have been banned. One such masterpiece includes my all time favorite, To Kill A Mockingbird. The novel was written by Harper Lee, published in 1960 and was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize the following year. Although published thirty-five years ago, the message of the novel remains relevant to today's readers; commenting truthfully and sensitively about prejudice, racism, and discrimination, and for this reason I consider it a valuable novel for study and discussion.
Others, however, beg to differ. In order to understand the problems with school censorship, one must know why it is done. One reason is bad language. A prime example of this type of censorship occurred in Eden Valley, Minn. (1997), when To Kill A Mockingbird was challenged and temporarily banned due to words "damn", "nigger", and "whore lady" used in the novel. Challenges in the Vernon-Verona-Sherill, N.Y. School District (1980) as a "filthy, trashy novel." At the Warren, Ind. Township schools (1981), To Kill A Mockingbird was challenged because the book does "psychological damage to the positive integration process" and "represents institutionalized racism under the guise of "good literature."" After unsuccessfully banning Lee's novel, three black parents resigned from the township human advisory council. Others challenge the novel because it has sexual activities, along with assaults on family values and violence.
Something else that must be mentioned in order to understand the evils of school censorship are facts censors ignore; the first being literary quality. Without doubt, To Kill A Mockingbird and many other timeless classics are generally recognized as among the best literature to come out of the U.S. in the 20th Century. The second important element ignored is the manner in which teachers lead students to interact with texts.