Banned Books Week


The previous post on this subject discussed the classics that have been “challenged”: Ulysses, Lolita, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Color Purple.

Here are observations on the 2013-2014 list that school boards or administrators pulled from school libraries and reading lists. As I said before, it’s pretty certain that the people who seek to ban the books haven’t read them. I can understand parents not wanting their own children to read certain of these books, but they have no right to censor what others read.

Yes, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende contains sex and violence, but it’s all in the context of a sprawling tale of love and war and fully appropriate.

Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man ran into a problem because of “strong language.” Since it was published in 1953, I’m guessing that pretty much anyone over age five has heard those words these days.

The people who objected to The Diary of Anne Frank because of “anatomical descriptions” need re-education. This book should be required reading in every school in the country.

“… material of a sexual nature that the parents deemed inappropriate” got The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett yanked in a Pennsylvania town. The book is almost 1,000 pages but reads moves along with the speed of the action-thriller that it is: a  fabulous mystery, a great exploration of architecture, and history that’s easy to read. I don’t remember any “sexual nature,” which probably occupied less than one percent of the whole.

Chicago took the most egregious action by banning Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. The students caught on and protested the banning of a book that concerns, among other things, the suppression of free speech. The district got the message, and the book stayed.

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