Banned Books Week

September 27, 2009

Banned Books Week, begun in 1982, started on Saturday September 26. As I think back on the different forms censorship has come in over time, I realize that I have a lot in common with the censors. I believe that books matter and make a difference. They open your mind to new possibilities and transport you to other times and places. But that is where my camaraderie with the censors stops. In fact, I am proud of the fact that many of my evergreen favorite books find themselves on the list of challenged books.

A significant portion of the books that are widely considered great literature seem to find themselves on challenged or banned books lists, no matter how much time is put between them and the original publication date. However, along with this thought, is the worthy of note fact that six out of seven petitions against a book are lost.

For example, The Story of Ferdinand, (written in 1936) by Munro Leaf often comes under contention. You might ask yourself, who could possibly have a problem with Ferdinand but the censors were concerned Ferdinand would turn children into pacifists.

However, if for some reason you don’t like The Story of Ferdinand, that is completely your choice and you should be able to not let your children read it. What you should not be able to do is stop other people’s children from reading about the loveable bull. As Clare Boothe Luce said: “Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but unlike charity, it should end there.”

Censorship, as a subject, is a great conversation starter—most people have strong opinions on the subject. To make a conversation on censorship richer and more interesting, I highly recommend a recent article in the Wall Street Journal:
“Finding Censorship Where There is None” by Mitchell Muncy

The following are several questions to jump-start a conversation on censorship with your family:
~ Is there such a thing as a little bit of censorship?
~ Are books banned in the United States?
~ Can a best seller be a banned book?
~ Should books should be allowed to be “challenged” or banned?
~ Do you have a favorite book that is found on the list of challenged books and what might be some of the reasons the book found itself on that list?

Some of my evergreen favorite books that find themselves on the list of challenged books:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Anastasia Krupnick by Lois Lowry
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
Crazy Lady by Jane Leslie Conly
Frindle by Andrew Clements
Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis
The Lost Flower Children by Janet Taylor Lisle
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
Sun and Spoon by Kevin Henkes
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Where’s Waldo by Martin Hanford

To find out more about Banned Books Week visit: http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/index.cfm

Great Minds Think Alike

September 15, 2009

Thank you Wall Street Journal for choosing The Arabian Nights in your column Masterpiece: Anatomy of a Classic. Abraham Lincoln said that “My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.” so often the column Masterpiece serves as my best friend by introducing me to books I would […]


Re: “Who Controls the Reading List?”

September 9, 2009

The New York Times featured an article in the latest in a series on the “future of reading.” The article compares two schools of thought: one that lets children have complete discretion of the books they read; the other that dictates assigning children a set curriculum. In the end, these two competing ideologies each have […]


Back to School “Starting off on the right foot”

September 8, 2009

No matter when the school year actually begins, Labor Day symbolizes Back to School. For me, the beginning of a new school year always brought both anticipation and excitement along with the daunting reality of new schedules and responsibilities for my children as well as for me. As much as I looked forward to my […]


It’s a… Book!

September 1, 2009

Please come to a book signing near you!


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