Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Banned Book Week 2011 - Part 2

Part 2 - Who, Why, and the Books 

I thought for Part 2 of my Banned Books Week Series I would take a look at who tries to have books banned, why they are challenged, and what books topped the list last year.


For more on this I checked out the ALA site for Banned Books Week. I wasn't surprised to find that the largest group of people to challenge books are parents themselves. Just because a parent doesn't think a book is suited for their child doesn't mean that another parent has a problem with it. As is evident by the fact that I allowed my daughter to read Crank this week.

As a parent I think we know what our children can and cannot handle. Therefore, I think that banning a book is an individual choice, not something that should be imposed on others.

Last Christmas we made the trek to Austin, Texas to spend the holiday with my family. My daughter spends her summers there with my family and has made a group of good friends there. One night she had some of the girls over and we were all playing cards and having a blast. Somehow the conversation turned to Twilight. As it turns out one of her friends hadn't read the books or seen the movies. I was shocked. She replied that her dad is a minister and she isn't allowed to read books like that (paranormal/dark). My first thought was, "That stinks!" She was fine with her parents' decision to not let her read certain material. I think this is difficult as most of her friends are all fighting over Team Edward or Team Jacob. Yet, the thought occurred to me that even though her parents don't allow her to read Twilight, they don't have a problem with her hanging out with other girls who have. She never said a bad word about the books or forced her, or her parents', opinions on the other girls. That is fine with me, as it should be.

However, I do know people (one in particular) who will believe anything they hear. I have one acquaintance, who if she was told that The Hunger Games is a horrible series, violent, and not for teens she would not allow her children to read it, without even picking the book up herself. In fact I'm not so sure she appeared comfortable when my daughter mentioned she was reading Crank.

On that same note, there are plenty of parents who have read the books, and still don't like them. That's fine too, in fact I give them kuddos for reading the books in the first place. Yet, I still don't think they have the right to take the right of reading it away from other children, my children. That decision should be left up to me and my husband. His response: "Whatever you think." He mostly leaves the reading decisions up to me. He liked the idea that she was reading Crank, a banned book. (We're both very liberal in our views.)


Why are books banned in the first place? There are several reasons for this.

According to the ALA website the following are the top three reasons for banning books.
  1. the material was considered to be "sexually explicit"
  2. the material contained "offensive language"
  3. the materials was "unsuited to any age group"
Okay, so these are all valid reasons to not allow your own child to read a book. But, under no circumstances do I want someone else telling me that I shouldn't have the right to allow my child to read a book because it's not suitable for their own child. To my knowledge my daughter's school does not have any books they have banned. I searched the website with no luck finding anything that would suggest they have banned anything from their library.

The Books 

I was surprised, and not surprised, by the top ten list for 2010 Banned Books.

1) And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
2) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
3) Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
4) Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
5) The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
6) Lush, by Natasha Friend
7) What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
8) Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
9) Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
10) Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

So, I wasn't surprised in the least bit that Crank and The Hunger Games were banned. That was already apparent by the topics they cover and the buzz surrounding themselves. However, I was surprised by Twilight. I thought everyone was reading this. Then I remembered my daughter's friend in Austin and thought, "Oh, religious reasons." That is the only reason I could come up with for that series to be challenged. I have already read it and been hounding my daughter to read it as well. 

Yes, I went to Goodreads and checked out all of the other books. Some interest me and some don't. Not that I don't agree with them being written or read, just that they didn't personally make me go, "Oh, now I have got to read that one." I didn't have a problem with any of them being out there in the library. Some of them I added to my to-read list. I will be reading them in the future. Maybe during a future Banned Books Week.

Your Turn -> Are you surprised by any of the books on the Top Ten List for 2010? Have you read any of them already? If so, what did you think of what you read?

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