Thursday, September 25, 2014

Banned Books Week

Did you know that this week is Banned Books Week?  Books aren't officially "banned" in our country, but are often challenged and banned in particular places.  It is interesting to look back and see that some of our favorites have been banned in the past and some of our students' favorites (like Captain Underpants - the most challenged books of the year) are currently being challenged.  You can read more about the most frequently challenged books and how they are determined at the American Library Association's site.
These books have all been challenged simply due to the fact that the characters are talking animals, which was considered "unnatural" at one time.  Could you imagine not having books without talking animals?!
 James and the Giant Peach apparently includes a swear.  We are all familiar with Junie B.'s poor grammar and use of "stupid."  Walter and the Farting Dog uses too much potty language for some.
The Family Book mentions that some families have two moms or two dads.  And Tango Makes Three tells the story of two male penguins who "adopt" a baby penguin who was not being taken care of by its own parents.  It really is an adorable story (I read it for a master's course on multicultural literature) but has been in the top ten list of challenged books since its release   Now, the Giving Tree promoting sexism?  Apparently this is because the boy is too demanding and the tree (a female) just gives him everything he asks for.
 Poor Shel Silverstein!  His books of poetry are a bad influence on kids because they encourage children to go against their parents, not follow rules, and so on. Regardless, I love them!  And Captain Underpants has been under fire for years because many feel the language is inappropriate and that the books undermine adult authority.
 All of the above books have been challenged because they promote witchcraft and/or magic.  
 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble portrays police officers as pigs and The Lorax is "unkind" to the forest industry.  Green Eggs and Ham was banned in China from 1965-1991 (upon Dr. Seuss' death) because of its portrayal of Marxism.  It has also been challenged in California because of sexual innuendoes (Would you, could you, on a boat?).  Hmmm....
Do you remember the Scary Stories book from when you were a kid?  I do...and yeah the stories did frighten me, but that was the point!  Where the Wild Things Are is considered to be too scary by some for little kids and others claim the book has elements of witchcraft as well.  And The Three Little Pigs is just too violent!
I love this quote...make the decisions you want for your own kids, but you don't need to make them for everyone else at the same time!

What are your thoughts on letting kids read banned/challenged books?  I'm under the opinion of let them read what they want to read, provided it's for their age level.  If reading about underpants and potty humor gets a child hooked on reading, then so be it.