Saturday, October 2, 2010

Censorship & Banned Books

Dear RFS Readers,

By promoting Banned Books Week on Reading For Sanity, I am not saying that you should feel obligated to go out and read every banned book.  I'm not even saying that you should go out and read the ones we've reviewed.  I'll leave your choice of reading material to you.  I am simply trying to raise awareness on the dangers of censorship.   If we remove one book because of a sexual premise, how many more have to come off the shelves.  If we censor the books with swearing, when do we put the black marker down?  If we rip a book from the library because we deem it worthy of banning, we are removing the choice from countless others who might gain something entirely different from the experience.  Choice must be a part of the equation.  In terms of what is available to the general population, who decides what is appropriate?  You?  Me?  What makes you qualified?  Or me for that matter?  Who draws that line in the sand?

The point is you either believe in our guaranteed right to freedom of expression or you don't.  You either believe that authors hold full control of their ideas, or you don't.  If we ask them to change what they write, so that we can be comfortable, or feel safe, then we run the risk of being censored ourselves when some day our beliefs and our ideas are called into question.   Think about it.  Censorship is not the answer.

Mindy O.

To close out Banned Book's Week, we'd like to leave you with the links to a few of the banned books we've reviewed and a list of some of our favorites. 

Banned/Challenged Book's We've Reviewed
(and the Reasons They Were Banned**)

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. - Judy Blume
Reasons: irreverent attitude towards God, unsuited to age group, discussion of sexual matters

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Reasons: themes of sexuality, drugs, and suicide

Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

The Color Purple - Alice Walker
Reasons: graphic sexuality, violence, racism, offensive language

Cut - Patricia McCormick
Reasons: explicit, promotes dangerous behavior

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
Reasons:  offensive language, violence

The Giver - Lois Lowry
Reasons: sexually explicit, promoting euthenasia

Harris and Me - Gary Paulsen
Reasons: Language, animal cruelty

Harry Potter (Series)  - J.K. Rowling
Reasons: anti-family, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, violence
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Reasons: unsuited to age group, violence

My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

Naked Lunch - William S. Burroughs
Reasons: obscene language, violence, pedophilia,

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
Reasons: offensive language, racism, violence

One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Reasons: Offensive language, violence, sexually explicit, sacrilegious

Slaughterhouse-five - Kurt Vonnegut
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, homosexuality

Snow Falling On Cedars - David Guterson
Reasons: sexually explicit, offensive language, racial themes

Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
Reasons: descriptions of rape

Twilight - Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

Our Favorite Banned Books

1984 - George Orwell
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
Blubber - Judy Blume
Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson
My Brother Sam is Dead - James Lincoln Collier
The Call of the Wild - Jack London
Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
Cut - Patricia McCormick
The Face on the Milk Carton - Caroline B. Cooney
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
The Giver - Lois Lowry
Go Ask Alice - Anonymous
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Harris and Me - Gary PaulsenHarry Potter (series), - J.K. Rowling
Julie of the Wolves - Jean Craighead George
Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
Kaffir Boy - Mark Mathabane
To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
The Lord of the Flies - William Golding
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry - Mildred Taylor
Snow Falling on Cedars - David Guterson
Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
Summer of My German Soldier - Bette Green
A Time to Kill - John Grisham
We All Fall Down - Robert Cormier
What My Mother Doesn't Know - Sonya Sones
The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeline L’Engle

*Sources: Quite frankly, Google. But also ALA, and here,


Kara and Chant said...

When you say "banned," where are they banned from? Libraries, schools?

MindySue said...

Most books are considered "banned" when they have been pulled from public school or public library. Some books have even been banned by governments. Books are considered "challenged" when someone (or several someone's) have officially objected to their presence in a school or library but haven't been successful in having them removed. The best site I have found for banned books is the ALA website (linked above) but you can also find pretty much anything on Google by typing in "Why was ____ banned" Does that help?

Kara and Chant said...

Yes. I was just curious because I have read several of the books on your list and I got them at the public library. I know that a few of those are even listed in the book orders that come home with my child from school. So being banned is not the same thing as having no access to the book.

MindySue said...

Right, having the "banned book" title just means they have been banned from a single public venue--not across the board. Some have been banned from many libraries or schools across the country. Because of the First Amendment, books cannot be banned nationwide. However, there are some that have been banned in other countries. You can see them here:

Kara and Chant said...

Thanks Mindy!


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