Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books Week.

For readers, writers, teachers, and parents, that should mean something. And it's not that we should be cheering for books to be yanked off shelves, either.

I'm the first person to raise their hand if there's a conversation about how some books are garbage, how I don't want my kids reading that, how I won't read such-and-such, for that matter.

But I want the right to make those choices for myself and for my family. No one else has the right to choose for me.

Based on the choices others have tried to make in banning books for other people's "good," censorship is a very dangerous road. A look at some of the most banned classics stunned me. It includes several of my all-time favorite novels. It also includes some I hate, but I don't think they should be banned.

Children's books in particular tend to get under fire, as well-meaning (at least, we hope) adults put their noses into parents' business and make the parenting decisions on our behalf.

One of the most currently banned books Scholastic publishes is well-loved in our house: Captain Underpants. (We've bought the entire series twice because the books were so loved they fell apart.)

I have a special place in my heart for Dav Pilkey's work. They were the first "real" books my son ever read on his own, cover to cover. Sure, they have lots of goofy potty humor and misspellings.

So what? They got my son reading. He laughed and had fun and advanced to harder and deeper books (without potty humor and misspellings!). Today he's a high-school junior who still reads a lot (much more advanced stuff). He has a great vocabulary, is a great writer, and, in my totally unbiased opinion, is a brilliant student.

Had I taken away his favorite books back when he was six and insisted he read Tom Sawyer when he simply wasn't ready for a classic like that, I think that today he'd hate reading and wouldn't have the academic success he has today.

And that would be a travesty.

One of my favorite posts about Banned Books Week is by Dan Wells, a great writer and a friend of mine. Read it. Here. Now.

Then go check out some lists of banned books . . . and then be really rebellious and read one.

I'm betting you already have.


JaredNGarrett said...

Hey Annette,
I enjoyed your post. My kids have loved the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. I think they're ridiculous, but I'm not going to take a book out of their hand.

We opt to talk about what they read instead.

And yes, Dan's post is excellent. Excellent also are the comments, particularly mine where I link to my own soapbox on this issue.

Kristina P. said...

Wow, this is ridiculous. These things always make me so angry.

Susan Anderson said...

I'm not a fan of book banning.

Having said that, I banned a few books from my children...and from myself.

But I like to do my own banning.


Tauni said...

Loved your post...

And, although I cannot stand Captain Underpants, we actually own multiple copies as well.

There's actually a really cool new group starting in the northeast called The Uprise Books Project. They're trying to get some of these books into the hands of underprivileged children so that they have a stronger desire to read.

One of the ways they are trying to grow is through social media. I am sure they would love it if you "liked" them.!/UpriseBooks

I am not affiliated, but I love what they are trying to do.

Unknown said...

I haven't read the list yet, but I almost keeled over from sheer indignation when I heard about the minister who had "fixed" Huckleberry Finn so it would be acceptable in schools again.

I totally get where he was coming from: It's a classic and really needs to be read and discussed by our kids. But the solution isn't fixing the BOOK, it's fixing the narrow-minded nincompoops looking for reasons to be offended.

That's right. I called them nincompoops. I think I learned that word from Captain Underpants, whose stories were legend in our house for many, many years.

Jillybean said...

I think I may need to go get some Captain Underpants books for Max.

My kids really enjoyed the Diary of a wimpy kid books. mean, THEY all fought over who got to read them first.

My cousin told me about the time "The Princess Bride" was assigned to his class to read, but due to a word on the back cover of the book, one parent complained, and the class was not allowed to read it.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your post! My nine year old son had never truly enjoyed reading books. Then last year he came across Captain Underpants and from that moment on he could hardly wait to read the next one in the series. He has since moved to Diary of a Wimpy Kid and adores those as well.

I am very frustrated right now because his teacher has banned the series in the classroom. As a child I was a huge book-worm and would read anything and everything I could get my hands on but my son is the opposite. My goal right now is to get him to enjoy reading and to learn to love it. If gross humor or complaining about your siblings and parents is what it takes to open his mind and heart to books, then I am all for it. I just wish that his teacher would allow it. In fact, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is in the school's library but he won't let the kids check it out. I feel that if I don't want my child to read a book that he brings home then that is for my to decide.


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