Do you read banned books? Banned Books Week is being celebrated across the country September 24 – October 1; here in northern California, libraries and bookstores from San Francisco to Smith River and all points in between have displays of books that have been challenged for some reason or another.
This Examiner reads banned books and is proud of that fact! Here are some past reviews of books that have been controversial when they were first published, and sometimes continue to be.
The Lorax by Dr. Suess – This book has been challenged and even banned in schools where the timber industry is the major source of employment. It’s a story of an environmental disaster because of industry and greed and the Lorax is the only one who speaks out is support of what’s right.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume – This story of an 11-year-old girl experiencing the changes of puberty and being raised with no religion (one parent is Jewish, the other Christian) has been challenged for discussing the aspects of changing bodies too openly. It has also been challenged for its portrayal of the Jewish and Christian religions.
Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman – Challenged, banned, and nearly impossible to find anymore is this story of a dark-skinned boy who gets tricked out of his new clothes by tigers, only to have them returned when the tigers turn into butter. Called racist because of it’s portrayal of, not African-Americans as some mistakenly believe, but of those native to the Tamil region of India, the story was written to amuse the two young daughters of the author.
The Giver by Lois Lowry – Challenged because of its storyline that include such topics as suicide, euthanasia, and drug use, this story of a future dystopian society devoid of color, feeling and memory is also the winner of numerous awards for young adult and children’s literature.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – The classic tale of a runaway boy from Missouri traveling down the Mississippi with an escaped slave in the years leading up to the Civil War has been criticized for the use of regional dialect, the use of the N-word, and its satirical look at the south. Those who challenge it and ban it have no idea how much they fit into the mold that Twain was trying to break.
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck – The story of a boy growing up and taking on new responsibilities in Vermont during the early part of the 20th century has been challenged because of its graphic portrayal of what happens when pigs mate and what happens when pigs are killed. The book has also been disparaged for its use of regional dialect.
While the San Francisco Children’s Fiction Examiner believes some books are inappropriate for some age groups and some books are inappropriate for any age group, the Examiner also believes it is up to the parents and the individual to determine what they will and will not read. Parents are responsible for bringing up their children to be loving, caring, productive, moral citizens. Unfortunately, not all parents take a proactive role in rearing their children. If a parent deems a particular book inappropriate for their child, they have every right and responsibility to prohibit their child from reading it. They even have the right to voice why they find it inappropriate and to suggest that it not be read by other children. However, they do not have the right to force their beliefs on other parents or those in positions of authority; that is one of the freedoms to the United States of America.
Now go read a banned book!