Go Read a Banned Book

Since reading is what I usually list when asked for a hobby, and I’m the daughter of a librarian, and I live in Texas (the Round Rock school district even), it’s no wonder that Banned Books Week jumped out at me as something to mention here. It’s held every year in the last week of September – that’s this week!

So, I started digging around online for more information.

A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school, requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. So why would someone challenge a book about penguins? Reasons given were: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group.

Now, I’m not necessarily ready for my six-year-old daughter to go check out Forever or even Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret (both frequently challenged books many times over the years); but, I’m certainly glad both titles by Judy Blume were available in my junior high school library growing up. And when she does get to an age where she’s learning about her sexuality, I expect book authors will fill in some of the holes I miss or she’s too uncomfortable to ask about even after we talk about the subject. That’s the way it worked for me growing up.

Speaking of Judy Blume and my youth, it turns out that my very favorite book of hers, Tiger Eyes, was actually self-censored by the author, and yet still turns up on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000.

Some of the other books I’ve read that have faced challenges over the years include A Wrinkle in Time, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Outsiders, Brave New World, Sleeping Beauty Trilogy (ok, so that one I probably wouldn’t want in the school library), Cujo, James and the Giant Peach, Carrie, Where’s Waldo (really? That was challenged?) and the classic, How to Eat Fried Worms.

And there are many more that I should have read that have been challenged, such as: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Of Mice and Men, Bridge to Terabithia, The Catcher in the Rye, Ordinary People, Slaughterhouse-Five, Lord of the Flies and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, just to name a few.

So, in honor of Banned Books Week, I’m going to go out and read one of them. Check the list for one that you’ve been missing in your personal library and join me!
[UPDATE]
Well, my Barnes & Noble didn’t have the penguin book, but I was able to find out it is a picture book. Somehow I doubt the illustrations put the two male penguins in any particularly compromising positions, but will keep my eye out for a copy to make sure. <wink>

Instead, I went with Bridge to Terabithia, a book that made the “10 Most Challenged” list in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2002 and 2003. I’m guessing it has been on that list even more since it was first published in 1977 (and won a Newbery Medal in 1978), but that’s as far back as I could find records. It has apparently been challenged for using offensive language and promoting Satanism.

Were the people who said that reading the same book I read?!

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2 comments

  1. Pingback: Go Read a Banned Book
  2. Jenn Deering Davis · October 2, 2008

    Some of my favorite books are on that list! I don’t really get why James and the Giant Peach shows up; Roald Dahl might be a little nutty, but his children’s books are wonderful and sweet.

    So sure, Howard Stern might not be appropriate for elementary school libraries, but most of the books on that list are important and powerful stories everyone should read. Though, if I remember my middle school days correctly, learning that some people wanted to ban a book just made it that much more attractive to me. Which is why Banned Books Week is such a great idea. I think I’ll go read one of these books right now, in fact. My bookshelves are filled with frequently challenged books. 🙂

    Like

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