With teens and adults everywhere flocking to his books and devouring them (not to mention the movie adaptations of The Fault in our Stars and Paper Towns), John Green has risen to super-stardom in the literary world.
But despite his books appealing to various age groups, some people think that they and their subject matter are inappropriate for kids to read.
Why was an award winning book banned?
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group. (www.ala.org)
Yes, the kids smoke, they drink, and it can get “racy”. But these are things that some (not all) teenagers do. This book tells a good story, and a heartbreaking one that teens and adults alike will not soon forget.
Also banned is The Fault in our Stars, a book about teenagers who face a terrible challenge, cancer. But the focus of this novel is not the illness. It’s about the characters and their humanity and bravery.
Reasons why this book was banned include: a morbid plot, crude language, and sexual content. And basically it’s “unsuited to the age group” that it was intended for.
Umm— morbid plot? Yes the theme of this book is heartbreaking but the idea that we are not immortal isn’t a reason to ban a book. The language used in this book is that actually used by teenagers and the sexual content isn’t gratuitous or graphic.
And here’s my question— what the hell does “unsuited to age group” mean?
Let’s get this straight, these are two young adult books that might not be appropriate for kids under 9th grade. There is some drinking and smoking in Looking for Alaska. There is some swearing and other language that could be seen as offensive, but kids are going to see and hear these things in their day to day lives. Even if they don’t read it in a book it’s there.
And as a reader, a writer, and a teacher I think that children and teenagers are smarter than we give them credit for.
That might scare some parents, who want to shelter their children, who don’t want them reading about death, or sex, or tough choices. But kids are facing these things younger and younger. They have to be aware that they will have to make the tough choices someday, that they will have to face heartbreak at some point.
Teens don’t stay innocent forever. While (in my opinion) there is nothing inappropriate for teens in these books, I do understand that this might be the first time they encounter some of these issues. And that’s okay. They will live, I promise.
And if students do read John Green’s books and they feel something after reading them, or they learned something about the world or themselves, isn’t that the whole point?
John Green’s other books, Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines have also been banned or challenged for similar reasons.
Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts?