I have always wondered why people felt the need to ban or censor books from libraries and schools.
Books that are enriching, worthwhile, enjoyable, and that teach children and teens amazing lessons about life are banned and challenged by those who think they know better. They want to shelter children from subject matter that they deem unacceptable. In reality, children and teens face these things every day and it is these books that help them come to terms with their experiences. So many banned books are those that children read, remember, and enjoy the most.
My top 5 favorite banned books:
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This book changed my life and I was appalled when I discovered that it had been challenged or banned by so many schools and libraries for language and was called a “filthy, trashy novel” (ala.org). In reality, I feel that To Kill a Mockingbird is a beautiful novel that teaches acceptance and shows those who read it that doing the right thing isn’t always easy. The positive messages in this novel far outweigh any negative message that some feel it gives children.
2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
I will never have enough positive things to say about Speak. It has been banned and even called “pornography” by a gentleman who obviously didn’t read the novel. Laurie Halse Anderson has written a novel that gives hope to victims of sexual assault and bullying. In no way is this novel ever pornographic and while some people feel that the subject matter is unsuited to the age group the novel is written for, the unfortunate truth is that this is a subject faced by many teens. This book can help save lives and encourages people who have experienced sexual abuse to speak out.
3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Another favorite of mine The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has been banned for “Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group” (ala.org). God forbid the words “boner” or “masturbation” are used in a book for teens. By removing books from shelves for that reason alone teaches tens that their changing bodies are dirty and something to be ashamed of. While the above stated topics are explored in the novel, it is about so much more than that as a whole. It is a touching, funny, sad account of the life of a Native American teenager. It shows what he goes through and addresses the topics of poverty and bullying among others.
4. Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
The Harry Potter series has been banned for “anti-family, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, violence.” (ala.org). To be completely honest, I think that this is a huge crock of shit. Not once in the whole book did it encourage children to explore the occult or Satanism. While there was violence, it was the good vs. evil violence that we see in so many children’s books and movies. It is not excessive, nor is it the whole point of the series. Harry Potter teaches values about friendship, belief in your own abilites, and standing up for others (among many other things) making it a positive experience for those who read the series.
5. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
One of my childhood favorites, Harriet the Spy was “banned and challenged by many parents and teachers who felt Harriet was a poor role model for children because she exhibited delinquent tendencies.” Seriously? I highly doubt that this children’s classic is at fault for my foul mouth. Harriet is a great female protagonist who is far from perfect. What she did hurt others and in turn she was hurt as well. However, she learned from her mistakes and it helped her become a better person (character). She is likable and fun and I love that we are seeing more characters like her in today’s children’s lit and YA.
What are your favorite banned and challenged books?
Why are they banned? How do you feel about it? Let’s chat!!!