Monday, September 23, 2013

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Books?

A book is a loaded gun in the house next door.
Burn it.
Take the shot from the weapon.
Breach man's mind.
Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?

 ~ Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Yep, it’s time for one of my favorite celebrations of the year —

Banned Books Week!
So let’s take a moment to honor some of the big baddies that have been removed or restricted from libraries or schools across the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen has been banned by some schools because it has descriptions of trauma and injury that are just too… well, realistic. Yes, you can get banned for good writing.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl has been banned for being too depressing. Gee, genocides usually are.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl contains mild profanity. It is also anti-authority and anti-aunt. Apparently SOMEbody’s aunt got her knickers in a twist over it.

The first Where’s Waldo by Martin Handford reveals a topless sunbather’s partially exposed breast. Perhaps the entire series should be renamed Find Frontage (trust me, it’s a LOT harder to locate than the big W).
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell has been banned for encouraging children to engage in socially unacceptable behavior (like looking for breasts in the Waldo series, perhaps?). It is also said to promote gambling and profanity.

By the way, my 4th grade teacher spent weeks of class time reading this one to us (with pretty apparent delight)… Yeah, I know — that explains a lot.

The sweet picture book And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson made the top of the Banned List in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010 for the shameful act of telling a true tale. Back in 2000 at New York’s Central Park Zoo, two penguins hatched an abandoned egg. The problem? The penguins were both male.
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein has been given the ax more than once for encouraging disobedience and (gasp!) messiness.

And finally, there’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig, a charming book about a donkey who collects pebbles. Well, this one has been banned in some schools and libraries because it portrays policemen as pigs. 

And yet —
Nobody seemed to mind that the story’s main character was actually…

an ass.

PROMPT: Read a banned book this week just to celebrate your freedom to do so. Then get to work on authoring your own awesome list-maker. Oops! Did I just encourage deviant, defiant, disobedient behavior?

Yep. (Says the soon-to-be-banned blogger)

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