Why is Lord of the Rings a banned book?

Have you heard Lord of the Rings is a banned book? What could be in it that would cause that to happen? We take a look at the history of the J.R.R. Tolkien book.
Public Library
Public Library / Mickey Welsh / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Lord of the Rings, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, is a masterpiece of fantasy literature beloved by millions around the globe. However, despite its widespread acclaim, this iconic trilogy has found itself at the center of controversy, being banned in some educational institutions. But why has such a celebrated work continually faced censorship? Let's dive into the reasons behind the banning of The Lord of the Rings and explore the consequences of banning books.

First, it's crucial to understand that censorship, the act of restricting or prohibiting certain materials, can occur for various reasons. In the case of The Lord of the Rings, one primary concern has been its perceived content. Some critics argue that the book contains elements of violence, magic, and references to mythical creatures, which they believe could be unsuitable for younger readers. Additionally, there are certain themes within the story, such as the battle between good and evil, may be too complex or controversial for some audiences.

"Courage will now be your best defense against the storm that is at hand—that and such hope as I bring."

J.R.R. Tolkien, Return of the King

The decision to ban The Lord of the Rings from educational settings typically falls within the jurisdiction of school boards or, in some cases, individual administrators. These individuals or groups may pass regulations or guidelines that restrict the availability of certain books in school libraries or curriculum. It's important to note that censorship in education often comes from a desire to protect students from, what the people making the decisions, deem harmful and/or inappropriate material.

Philippa Boyens, Ian Mckellen, Elijah Wood, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh
New Line Cinema's "Lord Of The Rings" Gets 13 Oscar Nominations / New Line/GettyImages

The banning of The Lord of the Rings has been met with a mix of both criticism and support. Advocates for censorship argue that it's essential to safeguard young minds from exposure to content that may be deemed inappropriate or morally questionable. They believe that by restricting access to certain books, schools can create a safer and more conducive learning environment. On the other hand, the argument against banning The Lord of the Rings emphasizes the importance of intellectual and academic freedom, as well as the value of exposure to diverse literary experiences.

Understanding the banning of The Lord of the Rings: A closer look at censorship in education

In the United States, decisions regarding book censorship often occur at the local level, with school boards having the authority to determine which materials are suitable for their students. While The Lord of the Rings has not been universally banned across the country, there have been individual schools and districts that have chosen to remove it from their shelves and curriculum. These decisions are typically made following complaints from parents, educators, or community and church members who object to the book's content.

One notable example of The Lord of the Rings being banned occurred in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in 2001. The book was removed from the shelves of the Chaparral Middle School library after a parent expressed concerns about its content, which was deemed to include satanic content and promote witchcraft, according to Deep Forest Productions. The decision sparked debate within the community, with some supporting the ban and others advocating for the book's reinstatement. Ultimately, the school board upheld the ban, citing the need to adhere to the district's policy on instructional materials.

"Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars"

J.R.R Tolkien

The banning of The Lord of the Rings raises important questions about the role of censorship in education and the balance between protecting students and promoting intellectual freedom. While some argue that certain books should be restricted to ensure the well-being of students, others contend that censorship undermines the principles of academic freedom and critical thinking.

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