This week is an important week when it comes to literacy and freedom. It’s banned book week!
This week celebrates and remembers all the different books that have been banned or challenged according to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF).
According to OIF the top three reasons why the books have been challenged was because they contained content that was either “sexually explicit,” “offensive language” or were “unsuited to any age group.”
In the Amber household we like to be mild rebels and read some of the books that are included in the very extensive list.
Here are the Tot Five books that we have read that are on the list with the reasons why they were banned.
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Yes, even Hogwarts’ favorite wizard wunderkind couldn’t escape being included on the banned books list.
Between the years of 1990-1998 the series was ranked number 48 on the list and between 2000 and 2007 it climbed all the way to number one.
There were several reasons as to why Potter made the list.
Parents were worried that Harry and his friends were setting a bad example by the way they behaved. They were often depicted as rule breakers and challenged authority on a regular basis (just ask Snape).
Others added that the books progressed into rather scary territory. While the beginning few dealt with good versus evil they started to get even more dark and the stakes became a lot higher. This included main and beloved characters being violently killed and featured intense battles where good people often died.
And of course a big sticking point for a lot of people was the books surrounded themselves in a world of magic.
Many felt it glorified witchcraft which many feel is inherently evil and might be confusing for children to enter this world of fantasy that centers around something that people might consider “evil.”
But, despite the fact that the book has been constantly challenged, it doesn’t seem to be slowing Harry down at all. Hey, if Voldermort can’t stop him, nothing can!
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do you See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
“Brown Bear, Brown Bear” is the perfect example of how ridiculous this whole banned book principle actually is.
This book was included on the banned book list because a board member on the State Board of Education in Texas in 2010 confused the author with Bill Martin who wrote a book for adults called “Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation.”
It pays to do your homework, school board member!
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
This book, originally published in 1967, was added to the banned book list because parents were upset that the main character, a boy named Max, intentionally caused trouble.
This shocked parents because they were used to children being portrayed as the perfect pinnacles of fresh faced youth, Dick and Jane. Now, you had a character who was a child that was acting like, well, a child.
People from the south were additionally upset because they felt that Max *spoilers* being sent to bed without any supper was a form of child abuse. (Apparently, they didn’t finish the book or they would have saw this was not the case.)
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
Filed under the category of “you have to be kidding me,” “Winnie-the-Pooh” was banned throughout random areas of the United States because talking animals are an insult to God.
Some places in Turkey and the United Kingdom have banned it because they felt Piglet was offensive to Muslims, and other places felt the book revolves around Nazism. (I have no idea how Nazis play into “Winnie-the-Pooh”).
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
We haven’t read this book together yet, but it is on my list so I wanted to include it.
Originally published in 1928, it ended up being banned by all public libraries in Chicago based on its “ungodly” influence because it depicted women in strong leadership roles.
In 1957 the Detroit Public Library banned the book for having “no value for children of today.”
Yes, how dare we use this antiquated book to teach our daughters to be grow into strong women, leaders. (That was dripping with sarcasm, just to be clear.)
As you can see, banning books is ridiculous. I believe that parents should set their own limits for what media they want their children to consume, this includes what books they read.
There are some books that deal with adult material that I would not feel comfortable letting my young child read, but I believe that decision should be mine and should not be left up to institutions. Banning books is a slippery slope.
What are your thoughts about banning books. Leave them in the comments below.