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Student Runs Secret Banned Books Library from Locker

Student Runs Secret Banned Books Library from Locker

Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite. It was originally published on September 2, 2011. Enjoy!

A Catholic school student who identifies herself by the avatar name “Nekochan” started an unofficial library of banned books that she runs out of her locker at school. She began to lend books to her classmates when her school banned a long list of classic titles, including The Canterbury Tales, Paradise Lost and Animal Farm.

Concerned about getting in trouble for violating school rules, Nekochan wrote a letter to an online advice column to ask if it was “ok to run an illegal library” from her locker.

Nekochan wrote about the recent book ban: “I was absolutely appalled, because a huge number of the books were classics and others that are my favorites. One of my personal favorites, The Catcher in the Rye, was on the list, so I decided to bring it to school to see if I would really get in trouble. Well… I did but not too much. Then (surprise!) a boy in my English class asked if he could borrow the book because he heard it was very good AND it was banned! This happened a lot and my locker got to overflowing with banned books, so I decided to put the unoccupied locker next to me to a good use. I now have 62 books in that locker, about half of what was on the list.”

I understand the appeal of reading banned books because they are banned. When I was eleven, I bought a banned books poster at a school book fair and proceeded to read each of the titles on the poster, crossing each one out as I went. It still hangs on the wall of my childhood bedroom.

Books are banned for many reasons, but in a lot of cases, such as Nekochan’s, the complaint originates in religion. Amelia T.’s Care2 post discusses the case of a public school that banned books for “contradicting the Bible.” In that case, only one member of the school board had read all of the books under consideration for banishment. Books are often banned by school boards whose only knowledge of the books is a brief, out-of-context quotation.

Nekochan recognizes the risk that she could get in trouble for supplying her classmates with banned books, but she believes that she is in the right. “Before I started [the library], almost no kid at school but myself took an active interest in reading! Now not only are all the kids reading the banned books, but go out of their way to read anything they can get their hands on. So I’m doing a good thing, right?”

I hope that this brave student can keep her contraband library a secret from the authority figures at her school. The thrill of a “secret” library is surely driving her classmates to read the very books that their teachers and parents do not want them to have access to. Her violation of school policy is in the spirit of bigger and better things — literature, freedom and the eternal fight against censorship. Well done, Nekochan.

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637 comments

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2:52PM PDT on Sep 19, 2014

I think this actually may be a clever move of the school to "ban" a lot of books to drive children into reading them. It may be a good way to prevent semi-illiteracy. ;) Don't you think this may be the case? ;)

1:34PM PDT on Sep 1, 2014

Good for her!

2:41PM PDT on Aug 28, 2014

To be perfectly honest I find this very amusing. Sounds like something I would have been involved in when I was her age. I had a very happy, healthy, vibrant childhood I am very happy to say!

2:27PM PDT on Aug 28, 2014

Nothing makes a book more attractive to a kid than to ban it. Makes you wonder why these idiots even try, especially considering what they do and don't ban.

1:49AM PDT on Aug 28, 2014

It's great that she thought through this first. Whether or not rules backs up an action, it's always important to think through what you're doing, the consequences, if you're capable of handling said consequences, and how you'll carry out your actions. I really appreciate that she's not doing just to be a rebel, but because she genuinely enjoys literature, and wants to share it! Keep at it girl!

As a side note, maybe other schools having difficulty engaging their student body in reading can try out this method of reverse psychology. :P

9:06AM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

Good for her!

4:20AM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

Several people asked where they could find lists of banned books. This is a difficult topic, as most books are banned at the school or community level. However, here is a link from the American Library Association which may be helpful:
http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks
By the way, to prevent misunderstanding, the ALA does not ban books - they simply record instances which have been reported to them. From this they establish the lists of most banned (or 'challenged' books)

11:25PM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

I never experienced book bannings during school. I read such works as the Peking Daily, a communist Chinese magazine printed in English, and Das Kapital, Mein Kampf and a few others. There was a bit of a stir around the Peking Daily, but we were studying revolutions and Sino-Soviet relations. The year was 1969.

To ban books like the Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, and other classics is good I suppose when it leads kids to defy the banning and read them anyway. Kids (and many adults too) need to learn how to read and critique a piece of literature. People need to make up their own minds as to what is appropriate. I am not suggesting sexually explicit and titillating material with questionable if any literary value. The classics are there to be read and have stood the test of time which is partly why they are just that, classics.

Heck, there was a big hullabaloo over the Harry Potter books when they first came out because it was "about witchcraft". What a load of horsepuky! They were and still are well written books that engage children in a story.

8:29PM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

Thank you

7:24PM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

Awesome!

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