Re: Censorship in schools, specifically of “Maus” (“Tennessee school district bans Holocaust graphic novel ‘Maus,’ ” Jan. 27) :

I was in eighth grade when we read the classic short story “The Most Dangerous Game,” in which a professional hunter preys on other men. It was my introduction to literature and the adult world it speaks to.

Through the rest of my school years, we read more literature calculated to teach us about the psychological and social realities of the world we would soon be joining as adults: “Lord of the Flies,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “1984,” “Raisin in the Sun,” “The Diary of Anne Frank” and so many others. Literature instructed us on the evil we would, in one way or another, be confronting, and the myriad ways people responded to it.

Literature put to us an important question: What kind of person did we want to be? And at what cost were we willing to be that person? It was the necessary antidote to the frivolous messages we were receiving via the commercial and entertainment world.

Today’s youth are exposed to something worse than frivolity: the dark side of social media, where people prey on others in ways far more devious than “The Most Dangerous Game” depicts. Literature provides the antidote that censorship would deny them; it provides the means of understanding the darker aspects of humanity, and the all-important question: Who do you want to be?

Zoe Gaston
South Portland

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