Banned Book Week

Thursday, October 2, 2008

As RedHeadedMomma and Maggie have said, it's banned book week. The American Library Association compiles lists of the most frequently challenged or banned books, so that we can all make sure to read them.

The ALA explains the difference between challenging and banning a book:

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. The positive message of Banned Books Week: Free People Read Freely is that due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.

The reasons for many challenges are not surprising, but sad all the same. "Unsuited to age group" is a popular one......No one told that to Maggie's mom, as she recited The Highwayman to her newborn, but rather than being somehow harmed by the poem, it had a hand in shaping the poet she is now.

I would like to thank all the teachers who put banned books on their curricula:
-Judith for Bridge to Terebithia (4th grade English)
-Mr. Nikoloff for To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies (7th grade English)
-Libby for The Outsiders, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, Go Ask Alice and probably everything else we read in 8th grade English

Thank you to the English department at the Head-Royce School, for all books and poems and plays, challenged or not:
-Mr. Tiermann for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ( 1st week of 9th grade)
As well as the list of suggested books that included everything from the classics to Cormac McCarthy.
-Mr. Barankin for his gleeful mischieviousness and for Beloved, Huckelberry Finn ( 10th grade), The Children's Hour
Yes, even for Dr. Enelow, who seemed completely evil at the time. His 11th grade Classical Lit course kicked my ass, and only featured 1 banned book (the Bible), but just look at the reading list:
The Odyssey
The Aeneid
The Bible
The Canterbury Tales

I hope you all find time this week to read a banned book, go to the library, talk about litterature, read, or do something creative. If you need a place to start, that won't take more than a few minutes, check out And Tango Makes Three, about the "gay" penguins at the Bronx zoo. It's adorable.


Anonymous said...

You should fwd this entry to some of those teachers you mention. They'd be proud that you read, and remember what you read, in their classes!

Jen said...

I love many of those banned books--To Kill a Mockingbird, Beloved, and many others. Let's hear it for banned books!

Maggie Jochild said...

You know, at age ten I read the entire book of Genesis as part of my attempt (at the time) to be a born-again. I discovered that Lot, extolled in sermons as an arbiter of morality, in fact offered his daughters as virgins to the crowd in Sodom to keep them from the angels sent by god, and later had drunken sex with his daughters, impregnating them and thus beginning the nations of Moab and Ammon.

When I took these profoundly upsetting revelations to my Baptist GA leader, she told me to stick to reading "assigned" parts of the Bible.

When I told my mother about it, she laughed and said the book most full of sex and murder ever written was the Bible. So now when people talk about banning books, I always suggest we begin with the Bible...

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