If you’ve been in the world of books and reading for a while, today’s climate about book banning might feel awfully familiar. The “Think of the children!” rhetoric, the accusations of teachers indoctrinating students, the banning of Toni Morrison and Heather Has Two Mommies…are we sure it’s 2022 and not the 1980s or ’90s?
It’s disheartening to feel like we haven’t progressed at all, that we’re still having the same arguments from decades before about whether it’s age appropriate for a child going through puberty to read a book about puberty or whether white children are too delicate to learn about the existence of racism between active shooter drills.
Because I kept getting déjà vu while reading about what book banners were saying in school board and library board meetings, I decided to make a quiz to see if you can tell the difference between the language used to ban books in decades past and in the present. I’ll be honest: the idea was more fun in my head. Wading through book banning logic then and now is aggravating, to say the least.
So put your skills to the test and see if you can match the scandalized quote or phrases to the time period! I’ve listed the answers afterwards, with links to the sources. (Some quotes have been edited for brevity.)
1950s: superhero comics “present our world in a kind of fascist setting of violence and hate and destruction. I think it is bad for children” and “I think Hitler was a beginner compared to the comic-book industry.”
1980s, A Separate Peace by John Knowles: for being a “filthy, trashy sex novel.”
1980s: “Members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for the rejection of The Diary of Anne Frank because it was ‘a real downer.’ It was also challenged for offensive references to sexuality.”
2020: “I know about the Dungeons & Dragons, I know about their dark basement for the teens, and enough is enough.”
2021: “I’m seeing young children being robbed of their innocence by being introduced or exposed to gratuitous sex and violence in both videos and literature in school.”