Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Banned Books Week: September 24-October 1

Get ready for Banned Books Week.

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak because a baby can't chew it."--Mark Twain

A grandmother once called me at the library to ask if there were picture-book versions of Harry Potter for her four-year-old grandson. After checking the usual resources and finding nothing (as I had suspected), I said to her, "I'm sure eventually there will be." I didn't tell her that the thought distinctly made me unhappy. Publishers have turned the Little House and Chronicles of Narnia books into young-reader formats. What will be next? Board book versions of His Dark Materials?

In my community, there are a lot of children who are reading above grade-level. Academically, they have the ability to read Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy years before I'd like them to be dealing with Necromancer bells and other matters of the Undead. However, it's my job to educate myself about the books in order to make recommendations, and the care-givers' jobs to decide what their children may read. Their jobs do not involve keeping books from other people's children.

A person doesn't have to be a book burner in order to be a book-censorer. Often, we will hear people say, "We don't want to burn books, no-no-no. That's preposterous. We just want the books to be in a certain area of the library where people can't get to them."

That's censorship. Yes, it is.

I love my Bill of Rights, even when I don't always agree with the interpretations. As Sarah Vowell said in Take The Cannoli, "About the only thing my father and I agree on is the Constitution, though I'm partial to the First Amendment, while he's always favored the Second."

Here are some of my favorite books on the Frequently Challenged list. Most of them I would rather Lucia did not read before she was in her double-digits. However, most of them I would recommend to Bede. He doesn't have to read them, though. I'm not a pest.

I'm enthusiastic!

Just a Few of Alkelda's Favorite
"Frequently Challenged" Books:

Anastasia Krupnik (series)--Lois Lowry
Annie on My Mind--Nancy Farmer
Brave New World--Aldous Huxley
Bridge to Terabithia--Katherine Patterson
Chocolate War--Robert Cormier
James and the Giant Peach--Roald Dahl
Handmaid's Tale--Margaret Atwood
House of the Spirits--Isabelle Allende
To Kill a Mockingbird--Harper Lee
Ulysses--James Joyce
Wrinkle in Time--Madeleine L'Engle

Addendum: Lori, the Goddess of Clarity, pointed me to a photo link of a memorial in Berlin. Books were burned there. The plaza is called Bebelplatz.


abcgirl said...

it's been awhile since i read them...why are the anastasia krupnik books banned?

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Among other things, I remember laughing my head off at the name Anastasia planned to give her unborn sibling. Her parents told her that she could name her sibling when he was born, to help soothe her wounded feelings about having a younger sibling so late in life (she's in 5th grade).

They're worth rereading, especially the first one. I won't spoil the name for you. I do remember my 4th grade teacher reading it in class. I wonder if the reason she never finished it (and I had to go to the library for it) was because of the proposed name for the sibling.

As Martha the hippo would say,
"Tee hee."

LB said...

The banning of any book is completely outrageous to me. Even if I don't want to read it I certainly would never tell someone else what they should read. The fact that "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a challenged book makes me sick. It is an extremely important story and an accurate depiction of the times. As far as "A Wrinkle in Time" this book sparked my love for sci-fi/fantasy way back at the age of 12. It is an incredible story. I can't even begin to understand what they find offensive in "James and the Giant Peach". You know who liked to burn/censor books? Nazis

lori said...

I love that Mark Twain quote; never saw it before. And "A Wrinkly in Time" was assigned to me in 4th grade and also started my lifelong love of the scifi. I read the other two books in the trilogy even though they weren't assigned; I think that's when my friends started officially referring to me as a geek.

Speaking of Nazis and book burning and quotes: there is a great memorial in Berlin to remember the fact that the Nazis started out by buring books. It's a very subtle, transclucent panel in the brick courtyard in front of a library through which you can see rows and rows of empty bookshelves with the quote "Wherever they burn books, eventually they will burn people."

Some pics:

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Thanks, Lori! I added the link to this post (giving you credit, of course.)

galetea said...

A big nasty raspberry to book-banners! I was loudly berated by two christian fundamentalists for having a "teen witchcraft" book in the children's section although I pointed out to them that we also carried a teen study bible.

I devoured the Anastasia Krupnik books when I was younger, although I can't remember anything that could have been even remotely questionable about them other than dealing with pregnancy in a fairly non-descript kind of way in the first book, though I DO I remember being VERY jealous of Anastasia's tower room. :)

Lois Lowry is a fairly challenging children's author on the whole, though, judging by books like "The Giver", "The Messenger" and the like.

Lone Star Ma said...

I can't imagine what would get those Anastasia Krupnik books banned either.

I had been hoping my comment on my blog about thinking that the FBI would really be checking up on what the Lone Star Girl was checking out of the library in a few years would spark some freedom-to-read discussion, but it didn't. I am really disturbed about the powers the govt. has now to snoop on our reading and make librarians help them. What do you librarian-bloggers think of that? I heard librarians were on the forefront of the battle for this one.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Lone Star Ma,
ALA's Library Bill of Rights doesn't stand up in court, and if we're subpoenaed, we are supposed to cooperate or be charged with perjury. That said, you will hear about many librarians shredding documents, deleting files, doing anything to uphold the library bill of rights. Sure, there are those who think it's fine to cover with white-out diapers the naked pictures of Mickey in Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen, but you will find people like that in all disciplines.

On, Bede asked the following questions:

If terrorists deployed a weapon of mass destruction into an American City, how much personal liberty would you be willing to forego in the aftermath? Would it make a difference if the weapon was successfully set off? Would it make a difference if it were your city where it happened?

I think those questions can easily be transposed to this freedom-to-read discussion that you've started. I hope others join in! Thanks, Lone Star Ma.

Lone Star Ma said...

Milk, milk, milk in the batter!