Every year there is an entire week devoted to Banned Books. It runs from September 22 through September 28. And just in time, the book Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell has been challenged and removed from a school district in Minnesota. Also, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison was removed from the schools in one North Carolina district. Over the years, books have been challenged and banned for various reasons. None, I feel, are worthy enough reasons. Not only as a librarian but as a reader, I strongly oppose books being banned.
So, when I hear about challenges and bannings, I am disheartened. I believe every person and parent should have the chance to make the choice of what to read or not read for themselves and their loved ones. I believe that sometimes topics in books can be ugly, but it’s because they are so often true, too true, for many people. But what better time to open discussion with others around you about such topics. If you read Eleanor and Park with your teen, what a perfect opportunity to ask if they have ever experienced or witnessed such bullying as occurs in the book. Or read Invisible Man and discuss racism, Black history and culture, Civil Rights. Think of the conversations you could have!
Here are some of the most challenged books throughout the years and some reasons why they’ve been challenged:
The Hunger Games Trilogy for anti-ethnic, anti-family, insensitivity, offensive language, occult/satanic, violence–OK, I admit they are violent, but anti-family? Read the books. Katniss does what she does to protect her family! And, war is violent. Reality tv can be violent. People can be violent.
To Kill a Mockingbird for offensive language and racism–a book about a man fighting against racism is promoting racism?
And Tango makes Three for homosexuality–I read this to my niece and nephew when they were younger. I don’t recall them reacting to the fact that two boy penguins “adopted” this baby penguin. They simply saw a family form.
Harry Potter for occult and Satanism–I will always maintain that the Harry Potter series is much more about love, friendship, and loyalty than witchcraft. And, really, it is the ultimate good vs. evil story.
These are just a few of MY favorites. Please share with us some of YOUR favorite banned or challenged books!