Banned Books Week Again

This week is Banned Books Week, one of my favorite times of year since it gives me a chance to add some new books to my To-Read list (seriously). Every year the ALA posts a short list of the most frequently banned books of the year, and it’s fun, and frustrating, to go through and see what was challenged, and also why.

The Absolutely True Diaray of a Part-Time IndianThe Guardian has already point out that a lot of young adult literature is on the banned list this year, like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (awesome) and Feed (also awesome). While sometimes I understand that reasons why a parent wouldn’t want their particular child to read a particular book (I read A Child Called It in middle school to, and that messed me up for a while) it’s obnoxious and overbearing when they try to enforce that point of view on everyone else’s kids, or on all the other adults (Fifty Shades of Grey nonsense made the list because some libraries think it’s just too icky). And even then, some of their reasons for wanting to keep their kids away from it — sex, swear words (seriously, swear words? You hear the F-word more on the bus ride to school than in any one of those books) — are so closed-minded, and also seem to just guarantee you’re raising a kid who will have no idea how anything in the world works.

Anyway. Here are some books from the list that I love, and some that I totally want to read now.

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Banned because of swears, and mentions of masturbation, and…racism? Seriously? No kidding, that’s one of the points of the book.
  • Feed. Again, F-word. Screw that school, F-ing read this book.
  • Ender’s Game. Apparently a teacher almost faced criminal charges for reading this “pornographic” book.
  • Looking for Alaska. Don’t you DARE ban John Green.
  • Tintin in the Congo. This is a case where I get it, because I’ve read about this volume and it sounds super racist. But, I still want to read the Tintin comics…
  • And Tango Makes Three. Gay penguins! Why would you ban that???
  • Persepolis. I love this book. It’s incensing that they tried to ban it, but inspiring that the kids got it back. Plus, maybe if children learn now that people from the Middle-East are also human beings, maybe we’ll have a few less nutters when they grow up.
  • Robopocolypse. Again, swearing. Again, do you really think your kid doesn’t know how to swear by now?

Banned Books Week – My Favorites from the List

Yesterday was the start of Banned Books Week, a week that celebrates our freedom to read by bringing attention to censorship and books that have been banned or challenged across the country. The American Library Association has a lot of great information on the week on their website, and the Banned Books Week website has been hosting a Virtual Readout, where authors and fans read passages from banned books and post them on You Tube.

The ALA has released a list of banned or challenged books from 2010, and 2011, which you can get from the website I linked above. There are some that I’m unsurprised by, but here are the ones that I either found really interesting, or are books that I hold dear to heart.

The Hunger Games. Honestly, I’m more surprised that I don’t hear more about this book being banned, what with all the violence and such. This was only challenged, not banned, because it gave the woman’s 11-year-old nightmares.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. This was actually pulled out a program because of “foul language”. Honestly I don’t remember more than a few scattered swear words – or maybe I’m just not a helicopter parent with radar turned on for inappropriate words and was actually paying attention to the content of the story. Maybe.

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes. This book is by my previous mentor, Chris Crutcher, but I read it years before I met him in an Adolescent Lit class. Parents challenged it for bad language and “pornography” – while I agree there’s loads of swearing in Crutcher’s book, I can’t remember anything pornographic aside from characters mentioning that they have had sex. This book is pretty overloaded with heavy themes, so the challenge is unsurprising, but I’m shocked the focus isn’t on the religion or abortion or child abuse. (Thought – maybe they didn’t actually read it.)

Pit Bulls and Tenacious Guard Dogs. Banned in Australia, because it’s about pit bulls. No fooling. I guess in that town you aren’t allowed to own a pit bull, so you’re also not allowed to read about them.

There are loads of other books on the list that I haven’t talked about, so you should read the list and see if any of your favorites make an appearance. Or check previous years and see what’s popped up before (Chris Crutcher makes several appearances.) Looking at the list always makes me want to buy and read something banned, so maybe I’ll pick up a copy of Bone or The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I’m sure that’s what the challengers want, right?

Have any of your favorite books been banned? Or are you thinking of reading a banned book this week?