Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's Banned Books Week!

Banned Book Week starts Saturday!

Here are a list of books most commonly "challenged" during the last year (found here):

I've read 10 of them, and that makes me sad. I wish I could claim that I've read all 75.

My favorite "challenges" were:

The Junie B. Jones series (seriously, who is upset at Junie B. Jones?), and A Separate Peace (for being a filthy, trashy sex novel).

Most of these were "unsuited to age group" which I found a bit ambiguous. Are we trying to get 7 year olds to read The Joy of Sex, which is clearly inappropriate? Or are parents trying to pretend their 16 year olds don't know what sex is and can't handle curse words (for example, in The Color Purple)?

I also liked the frequent "religious viewpoint" and/or "exposure to the occult" complaints. We have here two opposing and misguided viewpoints. I have found no childrens book (Harry Potter, for example) that exposes any kid to the Occult. I find that many people confuse magic (either the "fake" kind or the "religious" kind) with worshipping Satan. I also find that groups making this reference clearly are OK with The Chronicles of Narnia for exposing children to Christianity. Double standard?

The "religious viewpoint" crowd is also problematic. Religion is a big part of humanity. It is not realistic that we can simply edit our beliefs out for the purpose of writing a fictional novel. More than that, I question people who challenge books based on things like this. Should we not be teaching our kids to understand all religions, and be able to disect things? I read Twilight as an undergrad and immediately recognized the religious undertones and evaluated it based on that.

As for the sexually explicit, homosexuality, anti-family crowd: get. over. it. Homosexuals exist. They have sex (gasp!). Heterosexuals have sex too, sometimes not in the context of marriage. Families are not one mom, one dad, and 2.7 kids with a dog anymore. You're kind of setting your kids up for failure here if you fail to expose them to the real world.

To me, the biggest kicker is taking books off of library shelves. That allows one complaint to ruin it for everyone else who is comfortable reading these things. How un-American.

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