How Reading Banned Books Makes You More Open-Minded

How Reading Banned Books Makes You More Open-Minded

The controversy of banned books.
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Banned Books Week was a couple of weeks ago. Books on this list include: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Last year, Looking For Alaska and Fifty Shades of Grey were banned. At one point, some banned books even included the Harry Potter series and the Bible.

No book is banned for the exact same reason, and some books are banned for reasons that can’t be pinned down. Most of the time, however, books were banned because they talked about something that made people uncomfortable or offended.

A book like Fifty Shades of Grey was banned for one obvious reason: it contains lots of sex. It’s also a terribly written book, but, unfortunately, that’s not why it was banned. A lot of other books, like John Green’s Looking For Alaska and The Catcher in the Rye, were banned for "offensive language."

All banned books are considered controversial, but some even utilize racism. For example, Gone With The Wind is clearly filled with racism. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is full of racial slurs. For those reasons, it makes sense that they were banned. So why does anyone bother to read these books in today’s world?

To begin with, I do not think that middle schoolers, or even high schoolers, should be assigned to read controversial books like Huckleberry Finn. This isn’t because the books aren’t written well, or because high schoolers aren’t smart enough to read them. It is, however, because high school does not teach students how to analyze the books more than a great work of literature. High school will not, for example, ever address the question: Is Huck Finn racist or satirical? In high school, books are analyzed in a much different way than in college. In college, students learn how to criticize a text through both a critical lense and a moral lense. The book is analyzed as a well-written work that also poses problems. In high school, students are instructed to only look at a text as a great work of literature, but are told to ignore its important issues, issues, such as racism, that cannot be ignored.

So why read banned books? Reading a controversial book is like molding two arguments together; it’s like asking yourself: Why do some people find this controversial and some people don’t? Do I agree with one argument over another and why? What is the author trying to say by utilizing these elements in the book? What purpose do they serve?

By asking yourself these questions, questioning your own thoughts and feelings, and exposing yourself to new ideas, you become more open-minded.

The act of banning books is a blow to our freedom of speech. Why not exercise your freedom of speech and pick up a banned book? Every voice deserves to be heard.

Cover Image Credit: Photos For Class

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Poetry On The Odyssey: It's a Girl

An ode to the little girl raised to be insecure.

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They raise little girls to be insecure

Little girls grow to be big girls

People always ask big girls why they're so insecure

Big girls aren't quite sure

Day after day the big girl can't keep up

She's exhausted

Her soul feels worn

The big girl learns to grow hard

In a way, she's a bit stronger

People call her a bitch

Bitch

What is that?

How can she let that affect her

It's simply the only way to be her

She mourns that little girl

Hoping that one day

She'll be strong


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