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Is it okay to ban a book?

05th - 12th May 2023

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5-11 votes


11-16+ votes


Total votes

What is it, to ban?

An edict from the government to simply disallow a thing. That thing might be diesel cars or single use plastic where the driver is to improve the environment for future generations. Or like the smoking ban or unhealthy food promotions it could be to improve the general health of the population. But what about books?

Books which can illuminate, frustrate, entertain and perplex but are overwhelming a force to spread literacy and knowledge throughout the world. It seems amazing, that something of paper and ink can create such anger and fear to elicit a ban. You may associate a ban with something that totalitarian regimes of the 20th Century might do. But book banning exists in many countries. Even in the UK. Although not a ban, even Harry Potter got a healthy amount of protest…

In the UK, it might not always be an out and out ban as exists in some places, but how about a rewriting? This caused much controversy when there were some rewrites of Roald Dahl books.

For this VoteTopic, voters responded to the news of an increase in youth reading and increased discussions around the banning and changing of books. They explored some examples, including the Roald Dahl changes, and analysed reasons why a text might be restricted.

Two children in a library

Age 5-11

“We think children should be able to choose their own books as they can pick what they are interested in and expand their imagination with things they like, but we do think there should be some adult guidance to ensure they are appropriate."

Young boy thinking

Age 11-16

"Books are the historical representation of past and current views of society therefore we cannot ban them. Free speech is a human right."

woman curious

Age 16+

“Banning books is a dangerous thing, it's like silencing people on their thoughts and freedom of speech."

70% of those aged 5-11 said that adults should not choose which books children read.

  • Primary voters were discussing whether adults should choose the books that children read, with the majority voting 'No'.
  • In the comments, many argued that you can't enjoy reading if you aren't given the freedom to choose the books that interest and intrigue you.
  • Some voters said that a better idea would be for children to choose their own books but adults to ensure they are appropriate for their age.
74% of those aged between 11-16 voted that it is not okay to ban a book.

  • All voters aged 11+ were discussing whether it is okay to ban a book.
  • The majority of 11-16-year-olds voted 'No', arguing in the comments we received that it would be akin to removing someone's freedom of speech.
77% of those aged 16+ also voted that it is not okay to ban a book.

  • Those aged 16+ agreed, with the majority voting that it is not okay to ban a book.
  • Some argued an alternative could be placing age restrictions or guidance on certain texts.
  • Others said that books are historical artefacts that teach us about the past and so it is never okay to ban them.
concerns over violating people's free speech was frequently mentioned as a reason against banning books.

  • Other arguments included just putting a book down or avoiding it if you find it offensive or problematic.
  • The most common reason given for voting 'No' was that banning books violates our right to free speech.
  • Some voters said that we could create a second-copy of certain books so that readers can choose to read a modern version. This could be in reference to the recently edited Roald Dahl texts, that were included as an example in the lessons for this VoteTopic.