Banned Books


Kaitlyn Dixon, Writer


According to Oxford Languages, the definition of censorship is, “The suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.” In school, the main people that have the ability to censor books are the principal, librarian, the superintendent, and the school board. While censorship is not necessarily a good thing, it can be necessary in a middle school setting

Mrs. Erika Volpenhein, Principal, has the ability to censor books that teachers assign in the classroom. “As a former English teacher, I don’t really believe in “banning” books. In order to qualify for such a strong condemnation, the text would have to be discriminatory, propagandizing, or deemed inappropriate for minors. There is a SBDM policy and a board policy for review of instructional materials, so those protocols would also be followed.” Mrs. Karen Kampschmidt, a member of the SBDM board and a teacher, said, “There is no specific policy about book censorship. We have a general policy called ‘Alignment to State Standards’ that indicates that our academic work at HMS must be in line with the Kentucky Core Academic Standards. If there were concerns or questions about whether a book was in violation of those standards, that may be brought to the SBDM Council, but that has never happened during my time on the council.”

Another person who can censor books is Mrs. Stephanie Griffith, the media specialist. She chooses the books that are purchased for the school library. Mrs. Griffith makes sure that all of the books in the library are appropriate for students at the middle school age.  Mrs. Griffith said, “As a librarian, my role is to provide access to students to a variety of books and topics. However, there are times a student isn’t ready for the content of a particular book. Some books are too mature. So, when I am selecting a book, I look at a lot of reviews and try to discern if it would be appropriate for a particular grade level.” Mrs. Griffith has been the librarian long enough to know what is appropriate for students to read, but sometimes she has to go back and take a book or series out of the library. “I am not a perfect individual, and, as a consequence, I have made mistakes in ordering books for the library. When I do that, I remove the book from our system. One book series I removed was a graphic novel series based on The Walking Dead. It was way too mature and graphic for our purposes here,” said Mrs. Griffith.

Some people think that banning books should not be allowed. Lillian Foley, eighth grader, said, “I think that people know what they are capable or ready to read. It should be up to a student to decide if a book is appropriate for themselves.” According to the court case Board of Education vs Pico, “The Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for public school boards to abridge students’ First Amendment rights by banning books. Although school boards have the power to determine which books should sit on library shelves, they do not have the authority to censor” (

It is written in the first amendment of the constitution, that everyone has the freedom of speech. It gives the right to write and read whatever you want. This does not cover the school libraries though. Schools have the right to take any book out of the library if the school sees the book as inappropriate.

There are a lot of books that are considered “banned” in school libraries, but it is ultimately up to the school. Picking out books for middle schoolers can be tricky. Censorship is sometimes necessary to keep students from reading something that might upset them.