Tag Archives: Banned Books Week

Challenge the Banned

The week of September 27 – October 3 is banned books week. Twitter has been filled with funny tweets from publishers and readers alike. Libraries have set out the books banned in the past, front and center for you to read a “banned book”.

It seems ridiculous really, the idea of banning a book, to me anyway. In school, had I been told that I could not read a book, the first thing I would have done was have my mother find it for me so that I could read it. My mom knew better than to tell me that I couldn’t read something, because then I would have had my grandmother go out and find it for me so that I could read it.

We can look back at the past and laugh on the idiosyncrasies of the times before us. They were naïve, they didn’t know any better, or it was just the world they lived in.

But.

Even today, we have schools and parents who challenge books. You can find a list of them here. In a world that parents turn a blind eye and let kids flaunt themselves in public, on social media, they get their pants in a twist because their children could be reading something that would dirty their minds.

Preposterous.

I understand censoring for age-appropriateness, I wouldn’t read to my six-year-old a book in the age group for my 12-year-old, nor would I read a book full of sex to my 12-year old. As their parent, that is my job. Emphasis on the word my.

The world is a fishbowl of situations and people. We do not all fit into a mass mold, and we cannot expect our children to come from the same generic template either. They have to be able to read about situations that they ever never had to experience firsthand.

It seems the books on this list were banned because the subjects/topics that were written about made someone uncomfortable. Let’s take To Kill a Mockingbird for example (it is the most recent that I’ve read); it has been called degrading, full of profane and racist language and actions, and so much more.

This book was so much more than about race; it was also about the integrity of the human race – or lack of in some cases, prejudice, poverty, discrimination and the fact that we struggle to see past our own front yard some days.

But it was a good book. Not because it was full of happy go lucky times, not because it took me to a different time and made me feel good. No, in fact, many scenes made my stomach twist up in a sickening rage. It took me to a time and a place that was uncomfortable. It made me see things through a different point of view.

This hasn’t been a book that my eldest has had to read for school yet, I wonder if it will be on the list at some point. There have been others that bring light to uncomfortable circumstances. It is not taught so that they grow up and become like what they read in the book. No, it is to bring light to situations that are gritty and controversial so that maybe our kids can learn from them. Be better because of them.

I will never understand the idea of banning or challenging a book. Everyone needs to be able to read an experience for themselves. The idea of a school or a person telling me what my kids can or cannot read would tick me off.

The idea of being told what I should or should not write about would tick me off. The world isn’t a neat little package, wrapped up waiting for us like on Christmas morning. Therefore, we shouldn’t have to write like that either. And by banning a book, isn’t that what they are trying to say/do? Tell us that we shouldn’t have written about that.

Check out these websites to view the different lists of banned or challenged books.

Here is a list of Banned Books that Shaped America: (The bolded ones are books that reside on my bookshelf.)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, 1884

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X and Alex Haley, 1965 (Grove Press)

Beloved, Toni Morrison, 1987

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown, 1970

The Call of the Wild, Jack London, 1903

Catch-22, Joseph Heller, 1961

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger, 1951

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953

For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway, 1940

Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, 1936

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, 1939

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925

Howl, Allen Ginsberg, 1956In Cold Blood, Truman Capote, 1966

Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, 1952

The Jungle, Upton Sinclair, 1906

Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman, 1855

Moby-Dick; or The Whale, Herman Melville,1851

Native Son, Richard Wright, 1940

Our Bodies, Ourselves, Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, 1971

The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane, 1895

The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850

Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Alfred C. Kinsey, 1948

Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein, 1961

A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams, 1947

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston, 1937

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 1960

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852

Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak, 1963

The Words of Cesar Chavez, Cesar Chavez, 2002

 

What is your favorite banned/challenged book? Let me know down in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Till next time,

~AJP

Check out these websites to view the different lists of banned or challenged books.

http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/

http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/books-that-shaped-america/

http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/