Each year teachers, students, parents, librarians and many more recognize Banned Book Week as a way to show the value of books and the ideas they open up to the reader. You see, ideas aren’t bad because there is nothing wrong with thinking, reasoning and coming to a strong, good conclusion. Sometimes difficult subjects must be faced in order to grow and learn. According to the ALA (American Library Association) “books are usually banned with the best intentions – to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information”. Do you think that banning books for those reasons is a good idea? Who’s responsibility is it to decide what books should be made available to readers? Is it a parent’s, librarian’s or teacher’s job? Maybe we should let children decide for themselves. After all, children are citizens protected under the first Amendment. Most people agree that children should be able to select books to read as long as they are age appropriate. Librarians tend to believe that limiting choices limits information. Former ALA President Carol Brey-Casiano, “Not every book is right for every person, but providing a wide range of reading choices is vital for learning, exploration, and imagination. The abilities to read, speak, think, and express ourselves freely are core American values.”
If we took every book that was challenged off of library shelves everyone would miss out on great, important and thought provoking literature. You might be surprised to find out that the following famous titles were once challenged or banned from schools and libraries. I have listed the title and then the reason it was challenged/banned.
- Anne Frank: the diary of a young girl – too depressing.
- Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh – teaches children to spy, talk back and lie
- Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling – it promotes witchcraft and is too dark and depressing for children
- In a Dark Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz – too gruesome and morbid for children
- In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak – the character Mickey looses his pajamas when he falls into the kitchen, nudity
- A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein – one of the illustrations may convince children to break dishes to get out of cleaning them
- Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey – offensive language, inappropriate behavior.
- James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl – racism, promotion of drugs and communism.
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson – profanity, death, children disrespecting adults
- Are you There God, It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume – questioning God, puberty
- Blubber by Judy Blume – profanity and the villain isn’t punished for her cruelty.
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – inappropriate for age group, murder, violence as entertainment
- Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry by Mildred D. Taylor – racial slurs and harsh depiction of racism in the South
- The Giver by Lois Lowry – belittles motherhood, euthanasia
- Goosebumps by R. L. Stein – inappropriate for age group, violence, scary
- Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder – racism
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – undermines religious beliefs
- The Lorax by Dr. Seuss – criminalizing the forest industry
Well, what do you think? Should these books have been banned? Can you think of other books that people might want to censor? To recognize Banned Books Week come by the library and check out some banned books!