Sunday, September 28, 2008

2007's List of the 10 Most Challenged Books

According to the ALA, “the “10 Most Challenged Books of 2007” reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:

1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2) “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
Reasons:  Religious Viewpoint

5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
Reasons:  Racism

6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language

7) “TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8) “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
Reasons:  Sexually Explicit

9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
Reasons:  Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10) “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons:  Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Off the list this year, are two books by author Toni Morrison. “The Bluest Eye” and “Beloved,” both challenged for sexual content and offensive language.”

I will be honest in saying I have not read all of these.  I have read and adore some.

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is one of my absolute favorite books.  Yes, it addresses racism, but what is wrong with addressing a real issue?  Mark Twain was one of the world’s most prolific writers.  He wrote a beautiful story looking at racism and an adventure between a grown man and a young boy.  You can separate the two issues, if you read closely.  As much as the relationship is about race, it is about the one-sided views of a child and it is about people needing each other.

“The Color Purple.”  The reasons being homosexuality, explicit sex and language.  Firstly, we don’t ban films that use offensive images if it is an intrinsic part of the story. Secondly, if homosexuality, explicit sex and language are so offense, should we then ban all the Harlequin romances?  They are full of such things.

“I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.”  Seriously?  This is Maya Angelou’s life.  We should ban the telling of someone’s life because it was violent and tragic?  I know that looking at things that are in this book are difficult.  Yet they happen.  They are real events and this is a true story.  I think that banning a true story of a woman’s life is an insult to her and a slap in the face over all the things she dealt with.

“The Bluest Eye” and “Beloved” had been on the list and then came off.  I have read both.

“The Bluest Eye” is incredible and yes, there is racism, but again, should it be ignored?  Should stories about the way some are made to feel be removed from the shelves because it makes you uncomfortable?

“Beloved”, yes sexually explicit, but one of the most interesting stories about life after slavery.  I read this in college.  I found this to be one of the best books to analyze.  So much can be gotten out of this book.  I know a lot of people did not like it or get it.  I know some just saw the film and I can tell you as much as Oprah thought she was honoring this book, she strayed from it immensely.  If you had not read the book, the movie made no sense.  But I digress.

My point being that you can find something offensive in anything you read if you look for it.  From the greatest of classics to current favorites to off the wall tales.

A friend had her book banned in some southern states because she wrote about ghosts.  A children’s book about a young girl and ghosts titled “Lily’s Ghosts” by Laura Ruby.  I read it and enjoyed it.  I did not see what was so controversial, but it was banned from some libraries.

If we take away books, we take away creativity and imagination.  Hitler tried to control what information Germans received.  Keep that in mind if the urge to have a book banned ever takes you over.  There is a great book called “The Book Thief” about a girl in Nazi Germany.  Read it.

Celebrate Banned Book Week by reading books that have banned, support such books by writing to those trying to ban them and keep an open mind.

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