This is Banned Books Week. Banned or challenged books often evoke strong emotions. It is not something that is simply cut and dried. As a parent, librarian, bookworm and educator I find that I seem to fall all over the spectrum when it comes to books. I am a strong believer in the freedom to read what I choose. I’m an Army wife. My husband has put his life on the line numerous times to protect that freedom as well as many other freedoms. Thanks to him and his soldiers, I feel comfortable exercising my freedom to read on a daily basis.
I also believe that it is my job as a parent to determine what my children are allowed to read or not to read. Other adults should NOT make that decision for my children.
You might respond that as an elementary school librarian I make that choice when I chose to purchase or not purchase certain books for the library. I will admit that I am a strong believer in age appropriate materials. Library budgets are never big enough and it would not be a wise use of funds to purchase materials that might be suitable for only a few students. There’s a difference between censorship and collection development. There is also a reason that the books found in middle school and high school libraries are different from those found in elementary schools.
Often I find that books are challenged for reasons I do not understand. Over the years these are the challenges that have caused me to shake my head in confusion. These books made the ALA list of top 100 books challenged during 2000-2009. I’ve only listed the ones that I have seen in numerous elementary school libraries. How many of these have you or your children read?
· Scary Stories (Series), by Alvin Schwartz
· The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
· Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
· The Giver, by Lois Lowry
· My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
· Goosebumps (Series), by R.L. Stine
· The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
· In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
· The Witches, by Roald Dahl
· A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
· The Stupids (Series), by Harry Allard
· Anastasia Krupnik (Series), by Lois Lowry
· Halloween ABC, by Eve Merriam
· Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
· Harry Potter (Series), by J.K. Rowling
· James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl
· A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein
· Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
· Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
· The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
As I said banned/challenged books evoke strong emotions. The best way to respond is to be informed. Don’t take someone else’s word for it (not even mine). Read the book in question. At least that way you can form your own opinion of the book.
Tomorrow I will talk about Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, one of the books Wesley Scroggins urged a Missouri High School to pull from their shelves.
And for the remainder of this week, I will be enjoying my freedom to read by re-reading some of my favorite banned books: To Kill A Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye. What will you be reading?