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Illustration for article titled ​The Impact of Reading Banned Books

Books are banned primarily because of violent, sexual, profanity, or religious content. Most recently "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie was banned from a 10th grade English reading list in the Meridian School District in Idaho because of the book's references to masturbation, profanity, and and "anti-Christian" content.


Christopher Ferguson of Stetson University decided to research if reading banned books actually caused negative outcomes in children's lives like their parents (the people who most often ban books) fear.

Ferguson looked at the relationship between reading banned books and:

  • civic behaviors
  • internalizing and externalizing mental health problems
  • GPA
  • violent and nonviolent crime

In a sample of 282 children aged 12-18, he found correlation with reading banned books and increased civic behavior and in a small-sub sample there was a correlation between mental health issues and reading banned books, but further research was suggested.


I was surprised that there wasn't a link between reading banned books and GPA, but Ferguson pointed out that he controlled for reading pleasure, and there was a correlation between reading for pleasure and GPA.

Though I found this interesting, I think that the people who ban books would say that these are not the negative outcomes that they are worried about. In my experience, when my mom banned me from reading books it was more about not wanting me to masturbate, have sex, 'become' queer, or leave christianity (all of which happened).


Have you read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian? What did you think of it? Do you go out of your way to read banned books?

Can you think of a book that you could justify banning?

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