I read banned books.

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This week is National Banned Books week, which is dedicated to raising awareness about censorship and celebrating the freedom to read.

Each year the American Library Association compiles a list of the most challenged books of the year. At the top of this year’s list is “Captain Underpants”, a graphic novel about a couple fourth graders who bring their favorite superhero to life by hypnotizing their principal. I read it a long time ago, and thought it was just entertaining. But apparently some parents think it’s inappropriate because of “offensive language” and it is “unsuitable for the age group”. REALLY? I read it and I turned out JUST FINE. Promise.

But seriously. There are a lot of books on the list over the years that really surprised me. I’ve only read “Captain Underpants” and “Kite Runner” from this year’s list, but looking back there are some of my favorite books that have been challenged by small-minded people. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of my absolute all-time favorite books, and it appears multiple times. Same with “Catcher in the Rye”, “My Sister’s Keeper”, “Of Mice and Men” and even the “Harry Potter” books.

Here’s this year’s list:

2012

Out of 464 challenges as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom
  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
    Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
  6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
  9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence

— American Library Association

I grew up reading every book I could get my hands on, and my parents encouraged it. Reading is one of the best ways to expand world views and introduce new ideas. Basically, reading is a great way to challenge your ideas of the world. And that scares people. But everyone should be able to read every book ever. ESPECIALLY in the US, where we have the First Amendment and the expectation of free speech and freedom of expression. Which means, to me, everyone should be able to read whatever they want and schools should support that.

Especially if it challenges your beliefs.

All for now,
Bale

What is your favorite banned book? Which banned book surprises you that it’s on the list? 

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8 responses to “I read banned books.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorites as well. I also love the Harry Potter books. In fact most of my favorite books are banned books. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb and The Mermaids Singing by Lisa Carey are also amazing.

  2. I grabbed a list of frequently banned books at the library the other day, because I wanted some inspiration and it was there. WINNIE THE POOH is on the list. My favorite all-time banned book would probably be “The Handmaid’s Tale,” with a definite special mention to “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

    • I’ve heard so many good things about “The Handmaid’s Tale”, but I’ve never actually read it. I should probably do that. I also can’t believe Winnie the Pooh is on the list… how is that inappropriate at all??

  3. To Kill A Mockingbird is a fun one because here in Alabama, where you would think its subject matter might be most controversial, I see it on require reading lists in every school district. It’s the one thing my state can be proud of (that and the National Peanut Festival!)

    • That’s awesome! I’m glad that “To Kill a Mockingbird” is required reading in many schools, it’s so wonderful. I was assigned to read it about three different times throughout my public school years. I never got tired of it!

      • One of our field trips was to the city in Alabama in which the book is based. We saw the courtroom scene reenacted in the same courtroom that the movie shot it in.

        In other words, it is near and dear to my heart!

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