A Challenge of a Different Kind

When I was in 6th Grade, our teacher assigned the class “Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret.” I went to a parochial school. This did not sit well with a number of parents, including my own. They launched a complaint and tried to have the book removed from our reading list. My teacher, Mrs. Coffey, left the book on the list, but offered alternatives for kids with parents who absolutely refused to let them read the book.

What my parents didn’t realize is that I’d already read the book the year before. It was on the shelves of our 5th grade library. Not that I told them.

I learned two things from the experience: 1) Most parents were hopelessly out of touch and had no clue what their kids were reading, and 2) My teachers were cooler than I thought.

September 26 – October 3, 2009 is Banned Books Week. Laurie Halse Anderson knows a thing or two about censorship. She has a great response to some of the schools that have challenged her books. I went to the Banned Books Website and looked over the lists of books that have been challenged over the last two decades. Some titles were expected. Others were a complete surprise. Not only have I bought banned books and personally enjoyed them, I’ve read many of them to my kids. The horror!

Included on the lists:

Captain Underpants Series, by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: anti-family content, being unsuited to age group and violence
Would you believe this series has made the top 10 list in 2002, 2004 and 2005??

Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
Reasons: occult/satanism and violence

Bridge to Terebithia
, by Katherine Paterson
Reason: occult/satanism and offensive language

The Witches, by Roald Dahl
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl
The Stupids series, by Harry Allard
Where’s Waldo?, by Martin Hanford

Can someone please explain why Where’s Waldo is on this list? Seriously, I don’t get why any of these books would be banned, but Where’s Waldo? Come on!

These are just the banned books that I’ve read to one or both of my children. You can find more at the ALA Website under Banned & Challenged Books.

I think parents have a right to guide the choices their children make. They don’t have a right to mandate those choices to the world at large. The funny thing is, if they actually read some of the books they’re challenging, they might be surprised to find that the books have something valuable to say.

The number one banned book for the last four years?
And Tango Makes Three.

We’ll be reading it next week to celebrate. What about you?

BTW: I found out why Where’s Waldo? was banned: The original 1987 book had a topless sunbather exposing a breast. LMAO! Considering how small the pictures are, you’d have to look pretty hard to find it. Are people really offended by this?! Here’s an article with a blowup of the wardrobe malfunction 🙂