Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Read a Banned Book Today

So I read on Lisa Asanuma's blog yesterday that the last week of September is Banned Books Week. If you're like me, then the first thing that comes to mind when you read that is the recent censorship of Mark Twain's HUCKLEBERRY FINN, in which the "N-word" was replaced with the word "slaves" in a misgiuded attempt to protect the innocent eyes and minds of the current generation from the horrors of racism. Because, you know, that's waaaay better than talking to them about racism and educating them about healthy attitudes towards our fellow human beings and what lessons we can learn from the past, especially since we're sooo far beyond that now. It's not like anybody ever talks openly about hating Muslims or anything. *ahem* (In case you weren't sure, that was some pretty heavy sarcasm there.)

But to get back to the point, I expected to find HUCKLEBERRY FINN in the list.

HOWEVER, there were, for me anyway, some real shockers on the list of banned books. Like Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, banned because of its accounts of his having a child out of wedlock and making advances towards younger women. Neither of which I knew about before now, but that doesn't change the fact that he contributed enormously to America. I can't believe his autobiography was actually banned at one point.

Or LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, banned at one time for its racist attitude towards Native Americans. (See my comments about HUCKLEBERRY FINN above.)

But most shocking to me is the news that the HARRY POTTER series has been banned from some schools in the US for advocating wizardry and witchcraft.

Umm... Yeah. I think you know where I'm going with this one.

Suffice to say that while I respect every parent's right to guide their children's reading choices, I do not in any way, shape, or form support the idea that a book should be banned wholesale from any school, library, bookstore, city, country, hillock, or any other place. I believe in the free and peaceful exchange of ideas through conversation and printed matter. In other words, banning books = seriously bad.

So in honor of Banned Books Week, I'm reading a few banned books. On my TBR pile for this week are Lois Lowry's THE GIVER, John Steinbeck's THE GRAPES OF WRATH, and if I have time, George Orwell's 1984 (which I've already read, but it's a book that bears re-reading). I'm already reading HARRY POTTER, so let's throw that one on the pile, too. (I know. I'm a little behind. But I was waiting until they were all out to save myself from the anguish of having to wait a year between books to find out what would happen next. That's my line, and I'm sticking to it.)

Check out the list on Lisa's blog HERE (because I don't want to steal for my blog a list that she clearly worked hard to find or compile), and tell me:

Are there any surprises on this list? More importantly, what banned book will you be reading?


  1. Yes it is shocking about banned books. I knew about Harry Potter but am surprised about Little House on the Prairie. And yes it's terrible we don't teach kids more to respect diversity and not to hate anyone because of their race. I'm so with you on that.

  2. It's so true about banned books. After you read them you're not sure why they were banned in the first place. Sometimes it even makes me want to read them more.

    The Giver is awesome. Loved that book.

  3. I was shocked that Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Dairy of a Part-time Indian has been challenged. It's such an important book, and like Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak has really helped some abused kids and opened a lot of other people's eyes.

  4. I was skimming a bunch of lists yesterday when I was doing my blog post, and I think I saw "Where's Waldo" on one of them. I was like, "What?! Really?! Where's Waldo? WHY???"

    Anyway, I agree with you. Of course, parents have the right to control what content their kids see, but banning books for everyone isn't the answer. That's overreaching into other parents' and kids' choices.