Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Banned Books Week

The last week of September is honored each year as Banned Books Week. The American Library Association (ALA) has activities of all sorts. Bookstores, libraries, and a variety of literacy groups participate. Lists of most frequently challenged and banned books are published. Some people get quite excited. Others--probably most people--ignore the entire discussion.

When my daughters were in upper elementary school and older we would sometimes play a silly game of trying to think of a reason for any book to be banned.

What could be objectionable about Goldilocks and The Three Bears? Surely, you don't want children reading about a child who enters a house that is not hers, eats their food, breaks their chairs, and generally makes herself at home. What kind of lesson does that teach?

The Cat in the Hat? That classic can't be bad, can it? Let's see--a parent leaves children unattended and they let a total stranger come into the house. At the very least, that is not good parenting, at worst it is a lesson in trickery and ultimately lying to that neglectful parent.

I won't go on with this because you get the idea, I am sure. Can you think of other examples?

Just to get you excited, here are a few of the most challenged books of the 21st century. I think you will find some favorites on the list. Can you understand why some people might object to them?
Captain Underpants (all of the them) by Dav Pilkey
The Golden Compass
by Philip Pullman
Harry Potter (all of them) by J. K. Rowling
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Here are some authors who have had many challenges, often on more than one book, in the past 10 years.
Judy Blume
Roald Dahl
Kevin Henkes
Lois Lowry
Lauren Myracle
Barbara Park
I am eager to know what you think about banning books. We could get a good discussion going here.
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A side note: Lauren Myracle was one of our best visiting authors, ever. Her challenged books are the ones for high school students. We don't own those books, but many, many girls have enjoyed reading her books for upper elementary and middle school--Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen. They are great books to read to get inside the mind of a girl of those ages. They are funny, touching, and very real. If you are about ten, you can think about what lies ahead. If you are older than the ages of the girl in the book, you can remember what you survived so well. If you are 11, 12, or 13, you will recognize yourself and your friends in these books.


Anonymous said...

Nice post, Linda! I always feel that when people object about the content of books, children's books inclusive, it says a lot of things about those people. What makes a book more attractive to a child than for them to be told they mustn't read it?

BTW, this is Rolf; I don't care who knows it!

Anonymous said...

I agree, what will kids think of their ands and uncles after reading Harry Potter?

Anonymous said...

Sorry I meant say:
I agree, what will kids think of their AUNTS and uncles after reading Harry Potter?