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If you ban it, they will come

September 24, 2007

Next week marks the 25th anniversary of ALA’s Banned Books week.  ALA’s web site has a bunch of info about it, including the most challenged books in 2006.   They are, in order:

  • “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, for homosexuality, anti-family, and unsuited to age group;
  • “Gossip Girls” series by Cecily Von Ziegesar for homosexuality, sexual content, drugs, unsuited to age group, and offensive language;
  • “Alice” series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor for sexual content and offensive language;
  • “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things” by Carolyn Mackler for sexual content, anti-family, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;
  • “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison for sexual content, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;
  • “Scary Stories” series by Alvin Schwartz for occult/Satanism, unsuited to age group, violence, and insensitivity;
  • “Athletic Shorts” by Chris Crutcher for homosexuality and offensive language.
  • “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky for homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, and unsuited to age group
  • “Beloved” by Toni Morrison for offensive language, sexual content, and unsuited to age group;
  • “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier for sexual content, offensive language, and violence.

They also have the top 10 most challenged from the 21st century, thus far, and like most bestseller lists, Harry Potter leads the pack. 

Reading this, and thinking about what some of these books meant to me, I’m proud to say that I grew up with a mother who let me read whatever I wanted, and passed no judgements (other than when I read serialized versions of TV movies, which she called “crap”, but still let me read them).  I’m also the product of an educational system that had few, if any, such restrictions.  I remember reading “Chocolate War” and “Beloved” in junior high, where we talked things out the issues facing the character and were critical about their choices.  Much preferable to forbidding kids from reading books like these and denying them these experiences.  Make me want to read some “Captain Underpants”…

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