Monday, January 21, 2013

Are you kidding me?!

Most of the time, it's fairly obvious why controversy surrounds a particular book. I don't like the idea of censorship, but many times I can at least understand where the concerns are coming from. But the more I delve into this subject, the more I am flabbergasted by the titles that pop up on the lists of banned books. It's not so much that I can't believe that a person or two lodged a complaint, but rather the fact that so many did that they now have the honored distinction of being classified as a banned or challenged book. So without further ado, I offer you a baker's dozen of titles that truly made me think, "Are you kidding me?!?!":

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)13. His Dark Materials, by Phillip Pullman -- A newer fantasy series that's been compared to other great series like Narnia & Earthsea. Hmmm, OK.

12. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B Cooney -- I may be one of the only people who never read this as a kid, but I'm failing to see what the big deal is.

11. James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl -- This one and the next one are both enduring children's classics that have been around for decades. So the problem is...?

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)10. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L'Engle

9. The Harry Potter books, by JK Rowling -- Mentions of witchcraft aside, these books teach such good lessons. So we wouldn't want kids to read them because...?

8. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins -- OK there's a lot of killing, BUT if you actually read the books you'd quickly discover there is so much more to the story.

7. Twilight, by Stephanie Meyers -- Alright, I know this series is hated by many, but someone want to explain to me how the sparkly vampires are dangerous?

The Lord of the Rings6. The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien -- This would be the epic fantasy classic, beloved the world over. We are talking about the same books right?

5. Goosebumps, by RL Stine -- Stories about things that go bump in the night and got a whole generation of boys to crack open a book? I'm failing to see the problem here.

4. The Giver, by Lois Lowry -- Um, this one was assigned summer reading for me between 7th & 8th grade. Assigned by my private, Catholic grade school. So tell me, really, how bad could it possibly be?
A Light in the Attic
3. A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein -- A book of clever and silly children's poems, seriously??

2. Where's Waldo?, by Martin Hanford -- um, WHY?

And my hands down pick for the #1 spot...
Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury -- The classic novel that's all about why censorship is bad, yea let's ban that. WOW.

So many of the books that are challenged are very same books that have ignited a love of reading in so many people, young and old, so it really makes me sad to learn there have been attempts to wipe them from the shelves. Be a rebel and read a banned book! It just might give you a different perspective or even become a new favorite. If nothing else, it's a celebration of the right to read what YOU choose. And if you want to join my 2013 Banned Books Challenge, sign-up here!

photo credit: Love Of Books by George Hodan

17 comments:

  1. Where's Waldo?! What could there POSSIBLY be worth challenging in Where's Waldo? I mean, some of the others make me raise an eyebrow and shake my head, but I have to say I am flabbergasted by this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Someone probably found "suggestive images" or something. The rhetoric around censorship and banning books...oy.

      Delete
  2. Oh, I can offer some insight into this. I grew up in the South, and I was lucky to be part of a school program with a progressive curriculum and a family that supported reading to broaden one's mind. However, that wasn't the case in many places. A lot of these books contain what some might call "the occult." Anything involving magic is "from the devil" and the mass appeal is just proof that God is testing us and it is temptation from the devil. Also, in many places the definition of "magic" is pretty loose - basically, anything that is "God's abomination" as defined by that community pretty much counts. So, I'm guessing that would explain the following: 3 (Silverstein's whimsical creativity probably also borders on blasphemy in some poems), 5 (monsters), 6 (magic, etc), 7 (vampires = occult), 9 (magic, etc), 10 (l read this a long time ago, but I vaguely remember something resembling time travel and I don't know, loose boundaries on reality?), 11 (big bugs and family killing = occult), 13 (magic, etc). Just some thoughts from someone who grew up near some…culturally conservative communities.

    -- Justice

    www.erinmjustice.com // @erinmjustice

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least that sheds a little light on the thinking behind challenging these books! Don't get me wrong, I still don't like it, but it's good to know where other people are coming from. I grew up in a pretty conservative Catholic family and went to a Catholic school and I thought my upbringing and education were strict and conservative! But I think the difference was that a big deal was not made over these kind of made-up things in fiction. People made a much bigger fuss over movies that were considered obscene or had bad language, but I never personally saw this kind of objection to books.

      I fully support a person's decision to not read these books if they feel it's in conflict with their religion and even their right to stop their own children from reading them (up to a certain age), but I don't think it's right for the strict beliefs of a few to cause a book to get pulled from a school or library's shelves. I hate when a book gets dissected to the point where you "miss the forest for the trees," so to speak. But we all have the right to our own opinions. I just don't think it's right for a few people who object to take away access for the rest of us, and thankfully banning books is not often successful. If you ask me, you can always choose NOT to read something, no matter how many places have it available, but you can't always choose TO read something if it's been banned.

      I admire the school you went to because, in my opinion, there is nothing more important than reading to broaden one's mind!

      Thanks for such an interesting and insightful comment in this discussion and I'm so glad you've joined my banned books challenge. I'm looking forward to seeing which books you chose. Happy reading :)

      Delete
  3. You really never read "The Face on the Milk Carton"? That strikes me as bizarre since I had the whole series.

    I'm not 100% certain of all the details now, but if I recall correctly the girl was kidnapped from her family by a member of a cult. Then the kidnapper showed up at HER parents and said "This is my daughter, you take care of her now." So the entire book is the teenage girl trying to figure out what her past really is and who her real family is.

    I can imagine some people wanting to ban it just because they don't want their children going "See, you must have kidnapped me. I clearly don't belong in THIS family."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remembered that you read a bunch of books by this author, but I don't think I ever got to them. I'm sure I had my nose in some other series at the time instead! And I can see that point, but tell your own kid they can't read it, don't tell everyone's kids they can't read it! I'm thinking I really need to read some of these books for younger readers that show up on these lists, just to see what all the fuss is about.

      Delete
  4. Wow this list really does surprise me too. I mean Where's Waldo? Come on. Maybe it was his bad taste in fashion? lol

    It makes me sad that so many of these awesome books are banned at schools and libraries. At least kids can still read them at home. Hopefully there are lots of parents out there that encourage it. Some of these are classics and teach a lot of good lessons. I know I will encourage reading of any type of books to my children, whenever I have them. Everyone is different though in their beliefs, which may make more sense why they would not want them being taught in schools, but some of these are banned at libraries, now that is ridiculous. In my opinion.

    Great thought provoking post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yea, I almost fell out of my chair when I spotted Where's Waldo? on the list!

      I think I was spoiled by the fact that I never really experienced any kind of attempt at censorship firsthand. You're right that it's a tough call if a book is being taught in school and parents disapprove, but trying to bar them from library collections is truly sad. And even if a few parents do disapprove, there has to be a middle ground - an alternate assignment or something like that - instead of a relative few determining what an educator can or cannot teach. He/she is there to guide, explain, and TEACH about the subject matter afterall! I also firmly believe that most kids can handle much more than people give them credit for, and sheltering them too much does more harm than good.

      Delete
  5. A lot of my favorites are on that banned list, I'm so glad I wasn't banned from reading them!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I know! Isn't it beyond ridiculous what someone will challenge. My word!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know right! My jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw Where's Waldo on the list!

      Delete
  7. I totally read the Face on the Milk Carton! And the sequel! Maybe parents are afraid their kids are going to obsessively start checking beverage containers for their faces?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I personally think books do far more good than harm and that if kids are actually READING, most parents have far less to worry about than they think they do. Is that a generalization? Of course it is, but I don't think it's too far off. I really don't know what real reason a person would have for objecting to this book, so your guess is as good as mine! (and I kinda like yours!)

      Delete
  8. There were some parents who wanted His Dark Materials taken off the library shelf at my school because of the anti-religious content. It didn't work, and I was frankly surprised that it didn't, since I'm from a small, southern, conservative town. Harry Potter was always allowed in my school, but my mom actually lost a FRIEND because she let me read Harry Potter, and this friend thought I was going to turn to witchcraft. Seriously. I read both His Dark Materials and Harry Potter, and I'm still committed to my faith, so I guess to them they had nothing to worry about, but the idea of censorship still makes my skin crawl. I know your post is mainly about books being challenged or banned in places like schools, but what really gets me is that my mom's friend thought she had a right to comment on what I was reading and question my mom's decision to let me read Harry Potter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that story about your mom's friend so sad! I totally get that certain books go against a person's beliefs and that they might choose not to read them. But by challenging a book or doing something as personal as ditching a friend because of her reading choices (for herself or her children), the "challenger" is making the conversation very one-sided. When that happens, it is impossible to have a dialogue about the book and the ideas it presents.

      I get that certain books are controversial, but that's why everyone is entitled to their own opinion and to add their point of view to the discussion. Books are meant to be discussed and debated! Slamming the door in someone's face because you disagree with them does not seem the most civil way to handle a difference of opinion. I feel very strongly that you can disagree and still get along, especially when it comes to books. But you can only do that if you are given the opportunity! If we are to have a healthy diversity in society, we cannot all read exactly the same things or think exactly the same way. I'm sorry your mom lost a friend, but I'm glad she didn't cave into the pressure this person put on her either, which was completely unfair.

      Delete

I'd love to hear what you think :)