Intellectual Freedoms for Teens

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Hi everyone,

Today has been deemed by the Office for Intellectual Freedom “Sweater Vest Sunday”, a day where the Public Library raises awareness about the reality of censorship of their material (books, magazines, etc) and to increase the number of reported challenges to the censorship rules being published. In honor of this day, the Teen Leadership Council has written a few statements about their opinions on intellectual freedom.

“Intellectual freedom is as vital as freedom of speech. A banned book is one less idea and one less thought shared with the world and it is a travesty when those ideas are some of the greatest intellectuals of our time. I’ve been lucky enough to read books banned by some schools and the thought-provoking plots really help me learn to develop my own opinions about subjects. When freedom to write is suppressed, there is much more than words lost. I know that as a writer, my stories would be very different had I not been allowed to read the controversial books of great writers like Ray Bradbury, William Golding, Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkein, and even J.K. Rowling. As a reader and writer, I feel a responsibility to let everyone have the opportunity to read whatever they want and not be limited. Looking at the list of banned books saddens me because I know that some people are not going to get the opportunity to read what I did. These are classic cornerstones in literature, like  A Farewell to Arms, The Call of the Wild, and Animal Farm. Banning books is the equivalent to banning a piece of history, and that is simply unnacceptable.”

-Hana, 16

“I believe intellectual freedom is important because I think it is a right just as important as freedom of speech. If people are allowed to saywhetever they want, they should be able to read and write what they want. By reading controversial things, people can learn more about them and form opinions. If people are never taught about certain things, they will never know about it. For example, if American kids were never taught how Americans massacred the Native Americans in the West, then we wouldhave wrong opinions and ideas about Americans and Natives and most people probably wouldn’t know about what happened. By banning certain books that certain people think are bad is not something Americans should do. It makes us ignorant and doesn’t teach us the whole story. I also think the books that are banned are a little ridiculous. Classic stories like To Kill A Mockingbird, Lord of the Rings, and The Diary of Anne Frank really should not be banned. Those are great books that people should always read.”

-Nabil, 14

“Words create and transform our thoughts and perspective. They shape who we are and who we will one day become. The freedom to read and write is vital for community members because choice matters. As humans, we have the opporutnity to explore, whether that is across mountains or deserts or within pages of novels, articles, or books. To deny one’s ability to discover is limiting and confines someone to bleak ignorance. Everyone has thoughts and opinions which will vary from person to person and those perspectives and voices are meant to be shared, not necessarily agreed upon. The freedom and opportunity to inspire, challenge, and delve into fiction is one that’s necessary for growth, and will ultimately allow us to travel beyond ourselves.”

-Maddie, 16

“Everyone has rights, not just constitutional rights but basic rights. Everyone should have the freedom to educate themselves, whether its about other cultures, countries, or beliefs. Books are sources of learning and banning certain books or texts because they contain beliefs or ideas different from someone else’s is wrong. Whether factual or fictional, people should be able to learn about whatever interests them if they can can and banning certain books means that some people might not be able to.”

-Sam, 16

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