Saturday, September 29, 2012


September 30 through October 6, 2012 is "Banned Books Week", an annual event to promote the freedom to read.  Unfortunately, certain libraries, retailers, and others in this day and age still ban or face scrutiny over the the sale, loan, and/or distribution of certain books. Information on which titles face such scrutiny can be found, here.

One of my most favorite series, the "Alice" books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is often challenged.  The series revolves around young Alice McKinley from her middle-schools years through high school graduation.  Apparently some people have a problem with the frank and honest way the author describes sexuality and believe the books are "unsuitable" for age group.  While I'm 31, I have read the entire series to date and actually find it to be one the tamer series that I've read.  While some of Alice's friends do engage in sexual activity, it is never explicit and their actions all have consequences that everyone, even adults could learn from.

Some picture books even face controversy.  Rachel's  favorite banned book is "In the Night Kitchen" by Maurice Sendak. It has been challenged because the main character, Mickey, is naked in a dream. Maurice Sendak has defended the book by saying that Mickey is a little boy, and little boys are often naked in their dreams. All you can see is a small drawing of a penis.  She read this story when she was very young and she didn't even notice the penis.  She says, it is a fun, magical, imaginative story and she doesn't think a sketch of a penis is anything to get offended by.

Meanwhile Rebecca was once influenced by a book banning campaign  Her favorite banned book is the Harry Potter series.  She was influenced by the movement that called the books evil and accusing them of promoting witchcraft. Once she was in college, she decided to read it because so many of her friends loved the books. She was astonished over the uproar once she actually read them.  She loves the fantasy aspect and it is clearly set up as fiction and in that world you can't be a witch or a wizard without having been born as one. If she had simply listened to the censoring voices around me she would have missed out on some of her favorite books of all time.

What about you?  Do you read banned books?  Share your favorite with us!

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