More Banned Books, Or…. This American’s Goan’ Read It!

Okay, let me start out by sharing a bit of my post over on the Rocky Mount Telegram’s Charm Chicks blog, where I am so graciously welcomed as a guest blogger. You can read the full post (and some other great stuff) over there at ….

“I am always shocked to hear about an attempt to ban a book. It seems so….1940s-ish. After all, some of our greatest pieces of literature are full of the most common reasons for banning – sex, profanity, and racism, according to the ALA – yet are also the most life-changing, even society-changing, catalysts our nation has ever had. They expose real life and true conflict, and they give us empathy, understanding, and most of all, something to rise above.

“Maybe that’s the problem. As humans, we are uncomfortable with ideas that conflict with our own, and we’d rather stay in a safe cocoon than allow other realities to intrude. And we really hope that no one else will subscribe to those other realities, because that would challenge our sense that we are right. It takes a very secure, very faithful person to not be threatened or scared by the differences of others.

“I imagine book bannings happening in places like China, Iran, Afghanistan and the former U.S.S.R. Places where the government tries to keep such a tight hold on its people’s minds that it cannot allow even a peek of dissent to exist. Where the people themselves sometimes take the mantle of un-change upon themselves. Some of the most stunning books I’ve ever read have been born out of the repression of these places.

“Luckily, we live in America, where dissent and being different is embedded in our very being. Without the courage to think new ideas, try new methods, and allow different opinions and ways of life, our nation would never even have existed. After all, as Dwight Eisenhower once said, “”…We are descended in spirit from revolutionaries and rebels — men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine.” ”

So, here’s what I’m reading this year, as recommended by friends and found in the ALA’s BOOKS CHALLENGED AND BANNED in 2008-2009.

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Alexie, Sherman) – Currently suspended in an Oregon high school, includes masturbation – This has been a best seller and has won a National Book Award. Main character, who lives on Spokane Indian Reservation, chooses an all-white school. I bet it’s deep.
  • Bless Me, Ultima (Anaya, Rudolfo) – banned in Cali high school as profane and anti-Catholic – Boy asking questions about evil, justice, and nature of God. I’ll have to read it to see if it really is profane and anti-Catholic, since I don’t equate questioning with rejection.
  • The Great Tree of Avalon: Child of the Dark Prophecy (Barron, T.A.) – Restored, originally challenged for dealing with the occult – I love the fantasy genre, and I’m Christian, so I doubt it will hurt me.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Chbosky, Stephen) – Removed from high school classrooms in an Indiana town – Coming-of-age stories are always tough. So is coming of age.
  • The Supernaturalist (Colfer, Eoin) – Restored in middle school library in NY – See The Great Tree of Avalon comment.
  • Night Talk (Cox, Elizabeth) – Challenged in a Ga High School for sex scenes – I’m always interested in books where characters challenge racial stereotypes and boundaries.
  • The Starplace (Grove, Vicki) – Challenged in a FL elementary school for racial epithet – See Night Talk comment.
  • The Day After Tomorrow (Heinlen, Robert A. ) – Removed from an Ill high school and donated to library for adult nature – Come on, man – it’s Heinlen!
  • Girl, Interrupted (Kaysen, Susanna) – New Rochelle, NY Board of Education replaced 50 copies of the book after school officials ripped out  “inappropriate” pages from the book – I’ve been meaning to read this one anyway.
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Maguire, Gregory) – Retained in 10th grade honors class in NY, sexual content on “a few pages” – I love Gregory Maguire, but haven’t read this one. Brooks H. highly recommends it. Good enough for me.
  • Alice on Her Way (Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds) – Requires parental consent in a Wash. middle school because of sexuality issues – I want to see what the fuss is about.
  • My Sister’s Keeper (Picoult, Jodi) – Pulled from middle school classrooms in a Michigan town as “too racy” – I wonder what I would do if my parents tried to take my kidney?
  • And Tango Makes Three (Richardson, Justin and Peter Parnell) – Too many challenges to list here, check the list – I like penguins.
  • The Book of Bunny Suicides: Little Fluffy Rabbits Who Just Don’t Want to Live Anymore (Riley, Andy) – Retained in an OH high school library – Another Brooks H recommendation. This just sounds hilarious.
  • Vamos A Cuba (Scrieir, Alta) – This one is still in court, I believe. – Does it accurately depict life in Cuba? I dunno. Let me read it and find out.
  • The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem’s Eye, and Ptolemy’s Gate (Stroud, Jonathan) – Restored by a NY area’s school board, challenged for occult content – See The Great Tree of Avalon comment.
  • A Girl’s Life Online (Tarbox, Katherine) – challenged in a NY high school for graphic language – First off, why would you ban a “cautionary tale.” Second, do you really think your high schooler is that innocent?
  • Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan (Tucker, Todd) – long story, see the ALA’s list for details – This really happened? Wow. I want to know more….

Read. Speak. Know.


~ by gypsyjonga on October 2, 2009.

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