“Whatever you do, DO NOT read the banned books,” LVA Librarian Shelby Guinn on Banned Books Week



Banned book display in the LVA library gives students an opportunity to read challenged and banned books. LVA librarian Shelby Guinn creates display in celebration of banned books week campaign, hopes it can give students something to learn from.

Violet Gude, Reporter

The week of September 19 was banned books week, an international campaign created to celebrate reading freedom and spread awareness of challenged or banned books. LVA (Las Vegas Academy) Librarian Shelby Guinn set up a banned books display in the library that tells students “Whatever you do, DO NOT read the banned books…” 

The display features books that have been challenged and/or banned in libraries and schools around the world. It was set up to promote the annual celebration but will be available in the LVA library for the rest of this week, and is planned to be set up in the future. All of the books will still be available for check out all year. 

“I just want people to be aware of how important it is for them to think for themselves. Because I think it’s dangerous when we allow other people to do our thinking for us,” Guinn said. 

Guinn explains that as a librarian, he understands that not all books may be appropriate for everyone, but that doesn’t mean nobody should have access to certain content and information. Restricting a book because of specific content within the book takes it out of context and misses the important message that the story tells. 

When asked his favorite banned book Guinn replied “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” a classic of literature. He read and enjoyed the book when he was younger and found when reading it later in life he was able to take different things from it. The book has been commonly known to be challenged for its topics of racial issues and poor language. “To try to read it outside of the context of America in that time, you’re missing the importance of the book and without reading it in its context, you also miss the power.”

Book bans have occurred in 32 states across the US, and at least five have passed bills furthering the ability to ban and challenge books in schools. With book banning on the rise, many students are losing access to valuable resources. It is uncertain how much further restrictions will advance and is important for students to be aware.  This display gives students an opportunity to learn something from these books and educate themselves.

Guinn said, “When I say facetiously ‘don’t read the banned books,’ I’m really meaning read something that’s gonna make you think. You don’t have to agree with it, but at least let it be your thoughts.”