Monday, September 27, 2010

Speak Loudly: Banned Book Week

Banned Book Week is here . . . and the NY TIMES put out a list of 10 ways to celebrate the week. And what were last year's ten top challenged books? Here's the list:

1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: drugs, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
2. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: homosexuality
3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: anti-family, drugs, homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited to age group
4. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Reasons: offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group
5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
6. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
7. My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
8. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
9. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
10. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
Reasons: nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group  
So in honor of Banned Book Week, here are some great posts out there in the webosphere.

Shannon Hale, author: "The purpose of literature is not to represent perfect characters, an ideal world, where everyone acts kindly and appropriately. There's no benefit to reading that story, there's no learning, no questioning, no growing for the reader."

Sarah LaPolla's view: "Banned books not only spark conversation and debate, but they are also the ones that usually go down in history labeled "classics.""

S. Jae-Jones, Editorial Assistant: Book Challengers are well-meaning, but clueless

Aprilynne Pike, author: is there a better way?

Dan Wells, author: "Restricting access to words and ideas because they are different from your own is the act of a tyrant and a coward."

And of course, read what the author's whose books have been challenged have to say:
Laurie Halse Anderson -- SPEAK

So what are your thoughts on book banning?


  1. As a parent, I reserve the right to tell my children, "This book (movie, television show, game, whatever) contains things that are going to hurt you. You may not read (watch, play) it." Because honestly, not all ideas are good ideas. If there are ideas can help people and make the world a better place, then there are other ideas that can hurt people and make the world worse.

    But I think it should be up to individuals to choose which are which, not courtrooms or public libraries.

  2. It seems to me that it's really not a question of whether or not to censor, but where to draw the line. Most people believe that there should be censorship to some degree. In our country, for example, libel has crossed the line. If you publish something harmful and untrue about another, it should be censored.

    What about something that (like libel) would be harmful for some people to read, but not others? It's too broad a net. I know of someone who works with troubled youth, some of whom have a hard time separating fiction from reality. For these youth, fantasy in any form can be harmful (and possibly deadly). But that's not a good reason for censoring fantasy.

    What about things that are harmful to a community? Of course, "harmful" is a vague word. It might be appropriate to censor a set of directions describing how to break into a local bank. How about the recipe for a vicious chemical or biological weapon? How about a plea for members of one race to enslave another? I think there is definitely a place for censorship, but where to draw the line is troublesome.

  3. When my daughter was younger, (she's sixteen now) I filtered her reading material, not because I wanted to control it, but because I knew somethings would hurt her. Now, I've taught her to research a book, movie, game, to know what she might be getting into, then I let her make the choice to read, or not to read.

    The difference is choice, agency, and therefore accountability.

    I do, however, seriously limit what my boys are exposed to. Why? They're metally disabled and can't grasp that some things are pretend and others reality. To let the watch (since they can't read) anything they choose to would mess them up. They saw The Hulk once and cried for days. Since they aren't capable of making informed choices, AND I'm their mother, I make those choices for them. We're both happier.

    Having said that, I would get really angry if a public entity tried to tell me what my boys could watch because they're my responsiblity, not some watchdog group's.

  4. I'm a huge fan of "Harry Potter" and remember the controversy when it first came out. My good friend works at a popular bookstore. Every once in a while, someone would come in and blast the management for carrying 'the devil's book'. Each time, my friend would ask them if they'd read it. The answer was always no.

    I think Leisha is right. Research the book if you're worried, but keep an open mind. You just might be wonderfully surprised.

    And banning has a way of drawing more readers - which is counterproductive if it's a truly reprehensible book. So no, I'm not for it.

  5. I just want to say THANK YOU so much for sharing your thoughts here. What amazing insights!


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