Sungjoo Yoon: “I’m a High School Junior—Let’s Talk About ‘Huckleberry Finn’ and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.'”

From a New York Times guest essay by Sungjoo Yoon headlined “I’m a High School Junior. Let’s Talk About ‘Huckleberry Finn’ and ‘Mockingbird.'”

Sungjoo Yoon is a junior at Burbank High School, and the chairman of the Burbank Youth City Council, the citywide student government body.

BURBANK, Calif. — In late 2020, when the Burbank Unified School District removed five classic novels from mandatory reading lists in my city’s classrooms, I started a petition to protest the decision. The petition, which is still open, has more than 5,000 signatures.

Azar Nafisi: First They Burn Books, Then They Kill People

From a Washington Post opinion piece by Azar Nafisi headlined “Book bans signal the dangerous direction society is moving”:

“First they burn books, then they kill people!”

That line often came to mind when I was living in the Islamic Republic of Iran, every time the regime closed a bookstore or a publishing house, every time it censored, banned, jailed or even killed authors. It never occurred to me that one day I would repeat the same sentiment in a democracy, in my new home, the United States of America.

Book Ban Efforts Spread Across the Country

From a New York Times story by Elizabeth A. Harris and Alexandra Alter headlined “Book Ban Efforts Spread Across the U.S.”:

In Wyoming, a county prosecutor’s office considered charges against library employees for stocking books like “Sex Is a Funny Word” and “This Book Is Gay.”

In Oklahoma, a bill was introduced in the State Senate that would prohibit public school libraries from keeping books on hand that focus on sexual activity, sexual identity or gender identity.

In Tennessee, the McMinn County Board of Education voted to remove the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel “Maus” from an eighth-grade module on the Holocaust because of nudity and curse words.

Viet Thanh Nguyen: “My Young Mind Was Disturbed by a Book. It Changed My Life.”

From a New York Times guest essay by Viet Thanh Nguyen headlined “My Young Mind Was Disturbed by a Book. It Changed My Life.”:

Mr. Nguyen is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Sympathizer” and the children’s book “Chicken of the Sea,” written with his then 5-year-old son, Ellison.

When I was 12 or 13 years old, I was not prepared for the racism, the brutality or the sexual assault in Larry Heinemann’s 1974 novel, “Close Quarters.”