Betterment Through Books

Joe McKasson

Earlier this year, some Copper Hills parents brought concerns to Jordan District about sexual content in three books in Copper Hills’ library. These parents met with administrators from Copper Hills and Jordan District, and ultimately one of these books was pulled from the library. 


There are some who believe that making certain types of literature available in the school environment is a detriment to the welfare of the students. Some schools have even gone as far as keeping books from students altogether. An article from the New Yorker talked about a Florida school district that, as a result of recent legislation in that state, have started removing or covering up class libraries. 


One concern that parents have is that there is little consideration about the content that is going into school libraries, which could introduce content considered inappropriate for a library that is funded by taxpayers. However, there is a process for books that are approved to be housed in our school library. 


Erin Merril, the Head Librarian at CHHS, said, “The District has a library media selection policy, which all the libraries in the district follow. It gives us a criteria of things we need to check for, such as age appropriateness, how much it costs, and it asks us to rely on our expert experience to know whether or not the book would be of interest and appropriate for students.” The system that books go through to be accepted for the library is exceptionally rigorous, and every book is individually considered for inclusion into the library. 


Much of the controversy regarding books in the library is not about the books themselves. It’s easy to blame the content someone consumes for the way they act, behave, and ideate, but the expectation is on the reader to absorb and interpret it for themselves. The topic of books in school should not only be approached from an angle of which books should be allowed, and which banned; or whether controversial topics should be tabooed. Rather, the focus should be more on critical analysis and understanding. One of the most valuable uses of a school library is for practice in actively and critically consuming content. If one takes everything they read at face value, as it is so easy to do in this day and age, communication and understanding through literature is worthless.

A book that you read has an idea that you aren’t familiar with, perhaps the book portrays a person of a gender identity that you haven’t heard about before and aren’t used to. The easy thing to do would be to shake your head and cast the book aside, which is absolutely a valid option. However, a course of action that would bring greater insight would be to do your own research and ask questions. Perhaps you’re acquainted with someone that would understand better than you would. This type of action-oriented critical analysis will, across all subjects, help you to form your own opinions, which gets a person farther in life than leaning on the understanding one was raised with. Again, this is based on forming your OWN opinion, not finding or deciding about right or wrong. 


In conclusion, the onus is on the consumers to determine the value of books. Concern for the content available in the educational environment is an important facet of raising a generation and should be addressed with context and attention to what content is truly trying to say. Books are one of the most effective means of communicating ideas and broadening the horizons of one’s knowledge, mental capacity, and imagination. Literature is a tool that should be utilized for entertainment, pondering, and understanding, rather than being simply ignored or taken for granted.