Sunday, October 05, 2008



On Thursday, I posted about bad books. Today the item on the menu is banned books. Today’s Sunday Scribblings is perfect for me because I was planning a post in honor of Banned Books Week (which alas was last week, late again sarala). Last year I posted about reading Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky in honor of the week. Thanks to A Free Man for reminding me of the week in his very interesting post.

I have copied the ALA’s list of most frequently challenged books of 2007. Here they are:

1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
2. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence
3. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language
4. The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Reasons: Racism
6. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,
7. TTYL, by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
8. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
Reasons: Sexually Explicit
9. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit
10. The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Which book to pick? I think I might go for Maya Angelou. I haven’t read the Caged Bird and it sounds like a good idea. I have read Huckleberry Finn and really enjoyed reading it for a college class. The racism is difficult (why people have tried to ban it) but I just read a Dicken’s novel and The Great Gatsby which had anti-Semitic parts to them and there are racist comments in Gatsby. It didn’t prevent me from reading either novel and wouldn’t prevent me from recommending either book to others. We need to take this old literature within the cultural context of when it was written.
I recently read the first of the Golden Compass trilogy and could move on to Book Two. I actually enjoyed the anti-religious viewpoint. Criticism of religious intolerance is pretty common in Science Fiction and Fantasy. The only likely reason this particular series is on the banned list for ’07 is because it became a popular movie. Maybe they should ban the movie instead.
I think It’s Perfectly Normal is a great book that should be in the library of most families with kids. Personally, I don’t feel the need to read it. I’m a bit old for most of the information it shares. Plus I’m a doctor. I give sex ed. Reminds me, I recently talked to an adolescent who believed that birth control was irreversible. She said she wouldn’t use it because someday she wanted to have kids. Apparently her middle school only provides abstinence education. There are quite a few teen parents in the high school this school feeds into. Guess abstinence isn’t quite working out.
Do you have any favored banned books? Any on your reading list for this year? I’ll let you know what I wind up reading.

Breaking news, I bought I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou. I'll post on how I like it as soon as I've read it.


Kathe said...

Too many favorites to mention. Actually, the majority of what I read would probably be challenged. But that wouldn't stop me from reading them...or from passing them on to my daughter.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Color Purple, The Golden Compass (the whole trilogy actually), and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are ones I've definitely read. Not sure about the others, but I don't think I've read them.

A Paperback Writer said...

I had a good discussion last week with a class of 7th graders about why on earth Mary Rogers' Freaky Friday shows up on the ALA top 100 banned books list. I love the book. I loved it as a kid.
Huck Finn, by the way, is not a racist book; it's a book about an ignorant boy who gradually discovers that racism is wrong, although he has no clue how to right the wrong.
Frequently banned books that I love? Harry Potter, lots of Shakespeare.
I'm not fond of the Golden Compass series, but it has nothing to do with the anti-religion sentiment. I thought his climax in book 3 was incredibly lame.
And I think Catcher in the Rye is duller than dull -- but it's silly to ban it. So the kid hires a prostitute and then freaks out and pays her to go away. That's not exactly child porn. In fact, it's one of the few somewhat interesting parts of the whole book.
Thanks for visiting my blog, by the way.

A Free Man said...

Thanks for the link! Maya Angelou would be a great choice, it's been a while since I read that one (college, sheesh) but I remember it being really compelling. Kind of timely too, considering the race and gender issues that are coming up with the election.

self taught artist said...

i read the caged bird book a few years ago, have no memory of it...i think it felt like something i should have read when i was younger..banned? astonishing.... some of these books sound very intense though. makes me think of movies like Caligula. now THAT should be banned FOREVER, did you see it? I had to close my eyes and walk out.
good luck with these if you dare to try.

sarala said...

Paperback: I've never been able to get far into Catcher, despite its reputation for a classic coming of age-novel.
Self: I stay away from all blood-bath movies. I still have nightmares from one I saw in college.
Kathe and Free Man; Let's keep sharing banned books with our kids!