Monday, September 29, 2008

Be a Rebel! It's Banned Books Week!

"There is no such thing as a moral book or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all."
-- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
The last week of September is banned books week, marked by booksellers and libraries across the United States. As I've been looking into information on this week, I've found a dizzying number of lists of banned books. Harry Potter tops many recent lists, and so does my recent sob novel Bridge to Terebithia. Gone With the Wind, The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men - many of the greatest books of the 20th century have been challenged and banned from schools and libraries.

Those books don't surprise you? How about The Lorax? Challenged for "criminalizing the foresting industry." Or Where's Waldo? Removed from a school library for "nudity" (a tiny picture of a woman lying on a beach wearing a bikini bottom but no top). A Light in the Attic, Little House on the Prairie, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - all these wonderful books have faced attempts to ban them from libraries and curriculums. [source here]

As parents, we are gatekeepers to our children's minds and morals. If you don't want your child to read a book, don't have it in the house. If it's on a required curriculum, ask that your child read an alternate title. Just please don't try to impose your morality on others.

This week is a great time to talk to your children about banned books. A list of local libraries and merchants with displays can be found here. I've talked about this with my children as we've looked at the banned books displayed at our library. Reading is a freedom. But along with that freedom comes a responsibility to choose wisely and listen to guidance from parents. I don't want Drama Girl to read the Gossip Girl books right now, but I'm reading Twilight with her, and heaven knows she's read an enormous number of the books on the lists. My son has read and enjoyed Phillip Pullman's books, but he knows the difference between what that author espouses and what we teach at home and in our Church.

This week I think we'll act like outlaws and read James and the Giant Peach together.

"The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion..."
-- Henry Steel Commager

16 people stopped folding laundry to write:

Laura said...

One of my students is bringing in Twilight for me to read this week. How appropriate. I thought about assigning banned books as a book report but then I would have to "explain" it, and that gave me a headache. I'm with you here.Sometimes parents ask me to take books off my shelf in my room- instead I just remove them for a while. Then magically they appear again.
Gremlins- I think.

Cynthia said...

I didn't realize such a week existed! My mother has been to the library every other day for me since I've been on bed rest, fetching things off the Big Read list you posted a while ago (I'm happy to report I'm making excellent progress!).... I'm going to ask her to check for a banned book display there and pick up something to commemorate!

Cheryl Lage said...

Did you know "In the Night Kitchen" (by Maurice Sendak)is on the banned books list? "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret?" is, too. Right along with "Flowers for Algernon," "To Kill a Mockingbird," and "The Tales of Tom Sawyer."

Our local book store hosts RABL every year (Reading Aloud Banned Literature) -- a marathon where neighbors sign up for a shift and read aloud, round the clock, for 72 hours. I've taken the kids with me for my shift since they were 3. Now granted, some parental wisdom/discernment (censorship!;)) is merited, they won't be going for when I read "Lolita" for instance, but awareness is SOOOO important. If I'd never read any of the books mentioned above, I'd not be the same.

I want my kids to have the same access.

angie said...

I'm absolutely amazed how many great books are on the banned list. Great post. I'm reading one now......Forever Amber.

Monkey Memories said...

Hmmm...might have to pull out some Shel Silverstein to read to my class this week! :)

Lelia said...

Thanks for swinging by my little blog & leaving a comment -- btw, your post about banned books is WAYYY better than mine!!!!

MYRA said...

Thanks for entering my giveaway...
Have a good week!

LauraC said...

I took an entire class on "Offensive Literature" in college... odd that is was even offered bc I went to Caltech, which is a math & science school! But I learned so much about our society by what books were banned over time, and I read some amazing books.

I love that you celebrate this week by reading banned books with your kids. I'll certainly be doing the same in the future!

belinda said...

thank you so much for coming by for a visit......i so enjoy reading your posts......carry on

Alisa said...

Hmmm...can we have a banned tv show list? Seems like tv shows can get away with just about anything. Especially that Disney channel.
My 7 y.o. son is currently reading Huck Finn, having just finished Tom Sawyer. We are a troublesome family of free thinkers.

compulsivereader said...

I love banned books week. And major kudos to you for celebrating! Our library is too conservative to try the banned books week thing. We have too many people who have a fit over some of them to begin with. :-/

Preread if you are worried is always my suggestion!

Amy said...

It sounds like you and your children are bookworms like us. I started reading to my 3 when they were little and now they can't get enough of books. best things for their education I say!

kim said...

My kids aren't old enough to read themselves, but I think literacy and the ability to think for onesself is very important, so I make a point of reading books to them at night that challenge the status quo. We are almost finished up reading "The Golden Compass" which is a phenomenal book...much deeper and more anti-establishment then the movie was. This book was so good that I am going to pick up the rest of the series.

noble pig said...

James & The Giant Peach is on one of the lists? Seriously, what is wrong with people? I just do not get it! It pisses me off actually.

Domestic Accident said...

What could possibly be inappropriate in Little House on the Prairie? And Gone with the Wind is my all time favorite book. Who knew I lived such a scandalous life?!

Widney Woman said...

Gone With the Wind is banned? Are You There God, It's Me Margaret? is banned???

I agree, if you don't want the book in the house, don't bring it in - and if it comes in, explain why and remove it. It's called...Parenting.

Quite frankly, I have an issue with people banning movies and books because they HEARD it was bad. Or because it has a different viewpoint than theirs.

We need to make informed choices and decisions based on the facts. For example, I was told 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe' was a terrible book because it is about a witch. I finally got around to investigating the thing for myself. Hello! That is so NOT what the book is about!

Believe it or not, knowledge can be a good thing!

LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs