September 23 -30, 2006 is Banned Books Week by the American Library Association www.ala.org . I've always had an interest in controversial books and read things like The Tropic of Cancer while in my last year of high school..definitely not on the school's reading list. The school library had The Catcher in the Rye, which was one of my favourites, and also not on the reading list, even though it was there.
Some books have been challenged and not banned. A challenge means an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. Banning is the removal of those materials completely. Challenges are not just about expressing a point of view, they are an attempt to remove material from the school curriculum or library, restricting the access of others, like censorship. When they are banned, censorship completed.
(from the website:)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.
I feel that in terms of children, the parents should be aware of what they choose to read and discern for themselves whether it is appropriate. After all, I don't want anyone else deciding that for me or my children--I am quite capable myself thank you very much. My own mother was not a reader, she never finished high school, but she encouraged me to read. She wouldn't have like Tropic of Cancer, I can guarantee, but my exploration of the world began and continues partly through books. I could not live without them. And so my children will know books too, and hopefully read widely.
Also from the website:
The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2005” and the themes that were challenged:
1) It's Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris for homosexuality, nudity, sex education, religious viewpoint, abortion and being unsuited to age group.
2) Forever by Judy Blume for sexual content and offensive language;
3) The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger for sexual content, offensive language and being unsuited to age group.
4) The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier for sexual content and offensive language.
5) Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher for racism and offensive language;
6) Detour for Emmy by Marilyn Reynolds for sexual content;
7) What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones for sexual content and being unsuited to age group;
8) Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey for anti-family content, being unsuited to age group and violence.
9) Crazy Lady! by Jane Leslie Conly for offensive language.
10) It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families by Robie H. Harris for sex education and sexual content.
Off the list this year, but on for several years past, are the Alice series of books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain.
Being an American, I find the general prudishness unbearably irritating. We are so quick to challenge books, and yet our movies and tv shows are chock full of gratuitous violence. I knew a homeschooling family back in the states that actively kept any sexual education, rock music, and internet access, from their 12 year old boys and yet, let them watch all the violence they could lay their eyes on in movies. Sex: not ok, violence: just fine. Whaaaat???
So that's my rant. Anyway, some of these books, I haven't read, so I'm off to investigate.