As list of banned books grows, East Carolina readers speak out

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GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) — Banned Books Week is raising eyebrows across the country as PEN America reports that more books are being pulled from shelves than ever before.

The Banned Books Awareness Initiative is not limited to banned books. Local readers see this week as an opportunity to shed light on students’ reading rights.

Donna Kain, associate professor of English at East Carolina University, believes that students deserve the right to choose the books they want to read.

“I don’t think it’s great to say, ‘Oh, you can’t read these dangerous ideas. People are going to read these dangerous ideas,” Kain said. “They are going to be there. So I think it’s better to have honest conversations about what’s going on.

Earlier this year, parents at Ayden Middle School in Pitt County expressed concern to the school board about the book, All American Boys. Parents thought that certain themes like suicide, rape, and drug use mentioned throughout the plot were inappropriate for a middle school audience.

Pitt County Schools responded with this policy:

Another ECU teacher, Helena Feder, agrees that not all books are for all audiences, but the problem arises when children are old enough to make their own decisions.

“In other words, people who promote free speech don’t think we have to agree with everything we read. They believe that students should be exposed to a wide variety of perspectives and ideas and learn to think critically on their own,” Feder said. “They have to figure out what they will or won’t believe in. It’s a basic right that we all have…access to education, access to information.”

Feder also said that “often parents or school board members take these steps to remove texts from libraries and curricula because they feel they are promoting ideas with which they do not agree. “.

The Sheppard Memorial Library has been a staple in Greenville since the Great Depression. The library contains a large number of resources such as magazines, internet access, e-books and, of course, physical books.

Library Director Greg Needham said libraries need access to books about anything and everything because our communities are home to all kinds of people and all kinds of viewpoints.

“I think most people understand that the public library…we’re responsible for having a balanced collection, something for everyone,” Needham said. “In a place like Pitt County, we have ECU students, we have people from all over coming. We have a vibrant economy, so we have different businesses. People come in and out. So really, you need to have as wide a variety as possible.

All books that have been put on the “banned books list” are still available for purchase in stores and for rent in libraries.

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