It’s Banned Books Week, a week to celebrate our freedom to read. Every year hundreds of books are submitted to the ALA, American Library Association, as challenged books. These books are being requested to be banned from libraries and schools around the country.
I felt it necessary to pay tribute to some of those challenged or banned works. As I looked on my shelves I could pretty much pick out the ones I thought would be banned, but as I was researching, I came across books that I was utterly shocked to see on the list. I’ll recap some of those below. The loss of access to books like this is so reminiscent to Fahrenheit 451 (also banned and a book I did not like), The Giver, and The Book Thief; It’s quite scary. People should always be able to choose to read a book if they would like to.
Banned or Challenged:
I’m not going to go through the thousands of books that have ever been banned. I’m going to highlight the ones in my photo as those are ones that I own and love. I have read (the age-appropriate ones) to my children as well.
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling’s popular series, Harry Potter, has been challenged repeatedly for presenting dangerous ideas and attitudes that are bad for readers. The series has been banned from being read in school, removed from libraries, and even publicly burned in some areas of the US and UK.
- Promotes witchcraft
- Sets a bad example
- Too Dark
It does do all of the above things, but it’s just such a wonderful series of overcoming evil. I can’t believe that part did not resonate with the challengers.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Giver by Lois Lowry has reached the top 100 books to be challenged since 1990. The targeted reading group for this book is grades 5-8. This book is about banned books, by the way.
- Unsuitable for age group
- Lewd and Twisted
“Question to Lois Lowry: A parent from my school wants to ban The Giver. What do you think about that?
Lois Lowry’s Answer: I think banning books is a very, very dangerous thing. It takes away an important freedom. Any time there is an attempt to ban a book, you should fight it as hard as you can. It’s okay for a parent to say, “I don’t want my child to read this book.” But it is not okay for anyone to try to make that decision for other people. The world portrayed in The Giver is a world where choice has been taken away. It is a frightening world. Let’s work hard to keep it from truly happening.”
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games has made the top ten list of most challenged books multiple years since the first book of the series debuted. The movie releases created additional awareness to the books furthering the challenging-spree on the series.
- Sexually Explicit Content
- Religious Viewpoint
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Lightening Thief is a book about mythology and a boy who discovers he descends from the Greek Gods. I read a blog post from the view of a parent that challenge the book, and while I understand their concern if they feel their child is not ready to read this book, banning it from everyone is not the right action either.
- New Age Beliefs
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
I have extremely fond memories of reading the entire Wayside School series. That includes the Sideways Arithmetic one…the book basically got me to do math for 89 pages; I don’t see how anyone could challenge a book series like that. However, the book series has been challenged multiple times.
- Book could lead children to hatred and rebellion
Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
The Captain Underpants series has been successfully challenged, resulting in bans at certain schools. This series is ridiculous, outrageous, and off-kilter, and also has amazing Flip-O-Rama artwork that everyone should experience.
- Unsuited to age group
- Encouraging children to disobey authority
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
“What?!?!?” I know, that’s how I felt too. This book has been banned by a library in Colorado as well as several schools.
- Criminalized the foresting agency
This was one of the books that I was shocked to find on the list. The Criminalizing the forest agency is my favorite. If anything, this book teaches us the Reuse in Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park
If it turns out that my mom does read my blogs, she’s going to be very sad to see this. As a beloved series in my mom’s house, as well as mine, I couldn’t figure out WHY someone would challenge this series. The answers are right in the titles, however.
- Teaches poor social values
- “Junie B. Jones is a mouthy brat”
- Uses the word “stupid”
So yes, those are all very true points, however, she’s also hilarious and she does learn things and shows that to the reader. I have decided that the people challenging Junie B. must feel the same way about her as I feel about Caillou. But I just stopped putting that show on for my kids instead of writing to PBS about the most annoying child character to ever be created.
So, that pretty much wraps up my look into banned books. I think this is a very important week and should be made as known as possible. Censoring what is available to people to read is a slippery slope. Choosing for you or your family to NOT read a book is completely the right thing to do, but removing it from availability…That’s just not.
I think our bedtime book tonight will be Junie B. and the Stupid Smelly Bus.⠀
#bannedbookweek #bannedbooks #juniebjones #thegiver #harrypotter #thehungergames #thegivingtree #thelighningthief #captainunderpants