10 Quotes about Censorship

  1. Long live Alice and the freedom for girls everywhere to read what they like. — Phyllis Reynolds, author of the Alice series, including The Agony of Alice and The Grooming of Alice
  2. Banning books is just another form of bullying. It’s all about fear and an assumption of power. the key is to address the fear and deny the power. — James Howe, author of The Misfits
  3. “… I pity the young students who, because of someone else’s ignorance, and at someone else’s whim, are unable to read Twain, Baldwin, Shakespeare and Angelou. They will miss some delight.” — Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and The Bluest Eye
  4. “[I]t’s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.” — Judy Blume, author of Forever . . ., Blubber and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
  5. Submitting to censorship is to enter the seductive world of The Giver: the world where there are no bad words and no bad deeds. But it is also the world where choice has been taken away and reality distorted. And that is the most dangerous world of all. — Lois Lowry, author of The Giver
  6. Censorship comes from a place of fear. We fear that which is different, that we cannot comprehend.  Books gift us with understanding, empower us with knowlesfge. So, obviously, would-be censors have it all wrong. — Eleen Hopkins, author of Crank
  7. Sendak, Salinger, Steinbeck .. and Sones? I never met a banned book list I didn’t want ot be on.” — Soyna Sones, author of What My Mother Doesn’t Know
  8. Banning books does not protect teenagers. It condemns them to ignorance and puts them in danger. — Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak: 10th Anniversary Edition
  9. Since we’ve been thrown into the center of the censorship storm, we have come to realize that banning our book just makes more teenagers apt to read it, but the controversy also makes it more difficult for teachers to integrate it into their curriculum. While book banning piques students’ interest, the larger consequences can lead to irrational instances like book burning. Hearing the testimony of Holocaust survivors recounting the horrific sight of watching books go up in flames in Nazi Germany, I’d hope that we would learn from history, so we are not doomed to repeat it. — Erin Gruwell, Author of The Freedom Writers Diary : How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them
  10. “Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting an Establishment of Religion, or Prohibiting the Free Exercise Thereof; or Abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the Press; or the Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble, and To Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances.” — First Amendment

10 Banned Children’s Books

  1. The Lorax (Classic Seuss) by Dr. Seuss — Banned for being an allegorical political commentary. I assume this means that Alice in Wonderland and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are now out too.
  2. Bony-legs (Hello Reader! Level 1) by Joanna Cole — Banned for magic and witchcraft. Really? In a book about the folktale Bab Yaga no less. Are all witch stories suspect now? This is one of my upcoming Hallwe’en reads.
  3. In the Night Kitchen (Caldecott Collection) by Maurice Sendak — Banned for nudity when Mickey loses his clothes in the middle of the night. Some teachers actually went so far as to draw pants on him in the pictures.
  4. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig — Banned because of the the depiction of the characters as animals, particularly the police as pigs, apparently upset people.
  5. The Five Chinese Brothers (Paperstar) by Claire Hutchet Bishop — Banned from an elementary school because it is deemed too violent.
  6. Little Red Riding Hood by Trina Schart Hyman — Challenged because Little Red has a bottle of wine in her basket, promoting alcohol to minors.
  7. The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff — Challenged for promoting colonialism and being “politically and morally offensive”.
  8. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak — Challenged for having witchcraft, supernatural elements, and a child who yells at his mother.
  9. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite, Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman, King and King by Linda de Haan, and And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson — All challenged for homosexual themes.
  10. And my personal favorite unreasonably banned children’s books, the works of Bill Martin Jr. who has written such subversive books as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and Barn Dance! (Reading Rainbow Books) which have been banned from the Texas state curriculum.   The reason? Because some lazy idiot assumed he was the same person as Bill Martin who wrote Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation (Creative Marxism) and in Texas, apparently you can’t have educational counting and color books on your shelves if they were written by a Maoist¹. Even though they were not; Bill Martin and Bill Martin Jr. = two different people.

¹. This makes it even better because the Texans who made this decision didn’t even use Wikipedia to look him up and find out that he is not a Marxist but a Maoist.

Top Ten Banned Books You Must Read

  1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury -  It is always good to start with some irony.  451 was removed from the required reading list of the West Marion high school in Foxworth, Mississippi (1998) for profanity. Students at the Venado Middle School in Irvine, California (1992) received copies of the book with words deemed to be “offensive” crossed out. Students and parents protested, and after being contacted by the media, school officials agreed to stop using the expurgated copies. Ironically, this book is about book-burning and censorship, with the message that books are banned for fear of creating too much individualism and independent thought.¹ It was also censored for 13 years.
  2. Howl by Allen Ginsberg – was prohibited in Jacksonville, Florida Forrest High School advanced placement English class (2000) because of descriptions of homosexual acts. The poems led to the arrest of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the City Lights bookstore manager, Shigeyoshi Murao, on charges of selling obscene material (1957). A judge found him not guilty.¹
  3. Lord of the Flies by William Golding – Imagine a book about descent into savagery has been banned and challenged, based on the “excessive violence and bad language.”
  4. Lysistrata by Aristophanes - This controversial play is by Aristophanes was written in 411 BC and banned by the Comstock Law of 1873.  
  5. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell was challenged in the Jackson County, FL (1981) because Orwell’s novel is “pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter.” ²
  6. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien- Burned in Alamagordo, NM (2001) outside Christ Community Church along with other Tolkien novels as satanic.²
  7.  Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7) by J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Half–Blood Prince. was removed by the Wilsona School District trustees from a list recommended by a parent–teacher committee for the Vista San Gabriel, Calif. Elementary School library (2006) along with twenty-three other books. Trustees said one rejected book contained an unsavory hero who made a bad role model for children; another was about a warlock, which they said was inappropriate; and others were books with which they were unfamiliar and didn’t know whether they promoted good character or conflicted with textbooks. Rejected titles included
    three bilingual Clifford the Big Red Dog books, Disney’s Christmas Storybook, two
    books from the Artemis Fowl series, Beauty is a Beast, Welcome to the USA California, and The Eye of the Warlock.
  8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – Winner of a Newbery Award, was challenged at a Polk City, Florida elementary school (1985) by a parent who believed that the story “promotes witchcraft, crystal balls and demons.” It was challenged in the Anniston, Alabama schools (1990) because of the book’s listing the name of Jesus Christ together with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists and religious leaders when referring to those who defend earth against evil. It has been challenged for “sending a mixed signal about good and evil.”¹
  9. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood was challenged in the Waterloo, Iowa schools (1992) because of profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women and the disabled. Downgraded from “required” to “optional” on the summer reading list for 11th graders in the Upper Moreland, Penn. School District (2000) due to “age-inappropriate” subject matter.³
  10. Le Morte d’Arthur” by Sir Thomas Malory was challenged as required reading at the Pulaski County High School in Somerset, Kentucky (1997) because it is “junk.”¹

¹. Taken from banned and challenged books: the who, what, when, where and why
². http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/challengedclassics/reasonsbanned/index.cfm
³. http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/ideasandresources/free_downloads/2006banned.pdf

How Many have You Read?

This week will be the great big posts of Banned Books.  Let’s start out easy. According to the ALA, these are the top 20 most Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009. I have only read half. How many have you read?

  1. Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
  2. The Alice Books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  3. The Chocolate War (Readers Circle), by Robert Cormier
  4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
  5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  7. Scary Stories (series) by Alvin Schwartz
  8. His Dark Materials Trilogy: The Golden Compass / The Subtle Knife / The Amber Spyglass (series) by Philip Pullman
  9. Ttyl; TTFN (Ta-Ta for Now) (Internet Girls)l8r, g8r (Internet Girls) (series), by Lauren Myracle
  10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  11. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  12. It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health (The Family Library) by Robie Harris
  13. The New Captain Underpants Collection (Books 1-5) (series) by Dav Pilkey
  14. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  15. The Bluest Eye (Vintage International) by Toni Morrison
  16. Forever . . . by Judy Blume
  17. The Color Purple (Harvest Book) by Alice Walker
  18. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
  19. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  20. King and King by Linda de Haan