I apologize, but I have had to temporarily enable word verification on comments, as I have a very overzealous spam bot commenting on my posts. Hopefully, this will deter them after a few days. Please bear with me. Thanks!

Monday, October 5, 2015

#FrightFall Read-a-Thon - My Plans (for what it's worth)

FrightFall started at midnight and here I am almost 24 hours later and I haven't read a thing. *frown* But I will...I think. lol

Here's my list:

  • Finish Avelynn, Marissa Campbell
  • Sisters of Versailles, Sally Christie
Scary reads:
  • The Bell Witch, John F.D. Taff
  • Salem's Lot, Stephen King
  • The Wolf Gift, Anne Rice
  • Dover Demon, Hunter Shea
What about you? Are you joining me for FrightFall? Sign ups are open through Friday night


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Banned Books Week - Classics #bannedbooksweek

I'm going to wrap-up Banned Books Week with one of my favorite genres...Classics.

I can't quite imagine my reading life if I didn't have the opportunity to read classics. Classic novels are an important part of a literary education. Not only do they enrich our lives from an entertainment respect, but they also teach us about history and life in previous eras. When we read Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, we get a glimpse into the times they lived and what life was like.

That's why it's alarming to read about all of the instances of challenges to classic novels in the 20th century. The list I'm sharing with you below, Banned and/or Challenged Books from the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century, can be found on the American Library Association's website. (Titles I have read are in red)

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Challenged at the Baptist College in Charleston, SC (1987) because of "language and sexual references in the book."
The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger

Since its publication, this title has been a favorite target of censors.
  • In 1960, a teacher in Tulsa, OK was fired for assigning the book to an eleventh grade English class. The teacher appealed and was reinstated by the school board, but the book was removed from use in the school.
  • In 1963, a delegation of parents of high school students in Columbus, OH, asked the school board to ban the novel for being "anti-white" and "obscene." The school board refused the request.
  • Removed from the Selinsgrove, PA suggested reading list (1975). Based on parents' objections to the language and content of the book, the school board voted 5-4 to ban the book. The book was later reinstated in the curriculum when the board learned that the vote was illegal because they needed a two-thirds vote for removal of the text.
  • Challenged as an assignment in an American literature class in Pittsgrove, NJ (1977). After months of controversy, the board ruled that the novel could be read in the Advanced Placement class, but they gave parents the right to decide whether or not their children would read it.
  • Removed from the Issaquah, WA optional High School reading list (1978).
  • Removed from the required reading list in Middleville, MI (1979).
  • Removed from the Jackson Milton school libraries in North Jackson, OH (1980).
  • Removed from two Anniston, AL High school libraries (1982), but later reinstated on a restrictive basis.
  • Removed from the school libraries in Morris, Manitoba (1982) along with two other books because they violate the committee's guidelines covering "excess vulgar language, sexual scenes, things concerning moral issues, excessive violence, and anything dealing with the occult."
  • Challenged at the Libby, MT High School (1983) due to the "book's contents."
  • Banned from English classes at the Freeport High School in De Funiak Springs, FL (1985) because it is "unacceptable" and "obscene."
  • Removed from the required reading list of a Medicine Bow, WY Senior High School English class (1986) because of sexual references and profanity in the book.
  • Banned from a required sophomore English reading list at the Napoleon, ND High School (1987) after parents and the local Knights of Columbus chapter complained about its profanity and sexual references.
  • Challenged at the Linton-Stockton, IN High School (1988) because the book is "blasphemous and undermines morality."
  • Banned from the classrooms in Boron, CA High School (1989) because the book contains profanity. Challenged at the Grayslake, IL Community High School (1991).
  • Challenged at the Jamaica High School in Sidell, IL (1992) because the book contains profanities and depicts premarital sex, alcohol abuse, and prostitution.
  • Challenged in the Waterloo, IA schools (1992) and Duval County, FL public school libraries (1992) because of profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women, and the disabled.
  • Challenged at the Cumberland Valley High School in Carlisle, PA (1992) because of a parent's objections that it contains profanity and is immoral.
  • Challenged, but retained, at the New Richmond, WI High School (1994) for use in some English classes.
  • Challenged as required reading in the Corona Norco, CA Unified School District (1993) because it is "centered around negative activity." The book was retained and teachers selected alternatives if students object to Salinger's novel.
  • Challenged as mandatory reading in the Goffstown, NH schools (1994) because of the vulgar words used and the sexual exploits experienced in the book.
  • Challenged at the St. Johns County Schools in St. Augustine, FL (1995).
  • Challenged at the Oxford Hills High School in Paris, ME (1996). A parent objected to the use of the 'F' word.
  • Challenged, but retained, at the Glynn Academy High School in Brunswick, GA (1997). A student objected to the novel's profanity and sexual references.
  • Removed because of profanity and sexual situations from the required reading curriculum of the Marysville, CA Joint Unified School District (1997). The school superintendent removed it to get it "out of the way so that we didn't have that polarization over a book."
  • Challenged, but retained on the shelves of Limestone County, AL school district (2000) despite objections about the book's foul language.
  • Banned, but later reinstated after community protests at the Windsor Forest High School in Savannah, GA (2000). The controversy began in early 1999 when a parent complained about sex, violence, and profanity in the book that was part of an Advanced Placement English class.
  • Removed by a Dorchester District 2 school board member in Summerville, SC (2001) because it "is a filthy, filthy book."
  • Challenged by a Glynn County, GA (2001) school board member because of profanity. The novel was retained.
  • Challenged in the Big Sky High School in Missoula, MT (2009).
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
  • Burned by the East St. Louis, IL Public Library (1939) and barred from the Buffalo, NY Public Library (1939) on the grounds that "vulgar words" were used. Banned in Kansas City, MO (1939).
  • Banned in Kern County CA, the scene of Steinbeck's novel (1939).
  • Banned in Ireland (1953).
  • On Feb. 21, 1973, eleven Turkish book publishers went on trial before an Istanbul martial law tribunal on charges of publishing, possessing and selling books in violation of an order of the Istanbul martial law command. They faced possible sentences of between one month's and six months' imprisonment "for spreading propaganda unfavorable to the state" and the confiscation of their books. Eight booksellers were also on trial with the publishers on the same charge involving The Grapes of Wrath.
  • Banned in Kanawha, IA High School classes (1980).
  • Challenged in Vernon Verona Sherill, NY School District (1980). 
  • Challenged as required reading for Richford, VT (1981) High School English students due to the book's language and portrayal of a former minister who recounts how he took advantage of a young woman.
  • Banned in Morris, Manitoba, Canada (1982).
  • Removed from two Anniston, Ala. high school libraries (1982), but later reinstated on a restrictive basis.
  • Challenged at the Cummings High School in Burlington, NC (1986) as an optional reading assignment because the "book is full of filth. My son is being raised in a Christian home and this book takes the Lord's name in vain and has all kinds of profanity in it." Although the parent spoke to the press, a formal complaint with the school demanding the book's removal was not filed.
  • Challenged at the Moore County school system in Carthage, NC (1986) because the book contains the phase "God damn."
  • Challenged in the Greenville, SC schools (1991) because the book uses the name of God and Jesus in a "vain and profane manner along with inappropriate sexual references."
  • Challenged in the Union City, TN High School classes (1993).
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  • Challenged in Eden Valley, MN (1977) and temporarily banned due to words "damn" and "whore lady" used in the novel.
  • Challenged in the Vernon Verona Sherill, NY School District (1980) as a "filthy, trashy novel."
  • Challenged at the Warren, IN Township schools (1981) because the book does "psychological damage to the positive integration process" and "represents institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature." After unsuccessfully trying to ban Lee's novel, three black parents resigned from the township human relations advisory council.
  • Challenged in the Waukegan, IL School District (1984) because the novel uses the word "nigger."
  • Challenged in the Kansas City, MO junior high schools (1985). Challenged at the Park Hill, MO Junior High School (1985) because the novel "contains profanity and racial slurs." Retained on a supplemental eighth grade reading list in the Casa Grande, AZ Elementary School District (1985), despite the protests by black parents and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People who charged the book was unfit for junior high use.
  • Challenged at the Santa Cruz, CA Schools (1995) because of its racial themes. Removed from the Southwood High School Library in Caddo Parish, LA (1995) because the book's language and content were objectionable.
  • Challenged at the Moss Point, MS School District (1996) because the novel contains a racial epithet.
  • Banned from the Lindale, TX advanced placement English reading list (1996) because the book "conflicted with the values of the community."
  • Challenged by a Glynn County, GA (2001) School Board member because of profanity. The novel was retained. Returned to the freshman reading list at Muskogee, OK High School (2001) despite complaints over the years from black students and parents about racial slurs in the text.
  • Challenged in the Normal, IL Community High School's sophomore literature class (2003) as being degrading to African Americans.
  • Challenged at the Stanford Middle School in Durham, NC (2004) because the 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel uses the word "nigger." 
  • Challenged at the Brentwood, TN Middle School (2006) because the book contains “profanity” and “contains adult themes such as sexual intercourse, rape, and incest.” The complainants also contend that the book’s use of racial slurs promotes “racial hatred, racial division, racial separation, and promotes white supremacy.” 
  • Retained in the English curriculum by the Cherry Hill, NJ Board of Education (2007). A resident had objected to the novel’s depiction of how blacks are treated by members of a racist white community in an Alabama town during the Depression. The resident feared the book would upset black children reading it. 
  • Removed (2009) from the St. Edmund Campion Secondary School classrooms in Brampton Ontario, Canada because a parent objected to language used in the novel, including the word “nigger."
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  • Challenged as appropriate reading for Oakland, CA High School honors class (1984) due to the work's "sexual and social explicitness" and its "troubling ideas about race relations, man's relationship to God, African history, and human sexuality." After nine months of haggling and delays, a divided Oakland Board of Education gave formal approval for the book's use.
  • Rejected for purchase by the Hayward, CA school's trustee (1985) because of "rough language" and "explicit sex scenes."
  • Removed from the open shelves of the Newport News, VA school library (1986) because of its "profanity and sexual references" and placed in a special section accessible only to students over the age of 18 or who have written permission from a parent. Challenged at the public libraries of Saginaw, MI (1989) because it was “too sexually graphic for a 12-year-old.” 
  • Challenged as a summer youth program reading assignment in Chattanooga, TN (1989) because of its language and "explicitness." 
  • Challenged as an optional reading assigned in Ten Sleep, WY schools (1990).
  • Challenged as a reading assignment at the New Burn, NC High School (1992) because the main character is raped by her stepfather.
  • Banned in the Souderton, PA Area School District (1992) as appropriate reading for 10th graders because it is "smut." Challenged on the curricular reading list at Pomperaug High School in Southbury, CT (1995) because sexually explicit passages aren’t appropriate high school reading.
  • Retained as an English course reading assignment in the Junction City, OR high school (1995) after a challenge to Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel caused months of controversy. Although an alternative assignment was available, the book was challenged due to "inappropriate language, graphic sexual scenes, and book's negative image of black men."
  • Challenged at the St. Johns County Schools in St. Augustine, FL (1995). Retained on the Round Rock, TX Independent High School reading list (1996) after a challenge that the book was too violent.
  • Challenged, but retained, as part of the reading list for Advanced Placement English classes at Northwest High Schools in High Point, NC (1996). The book was challenged because it is "sexually graphic and violent."
  • Removed from the Jackson County, WV school libraries (1997) along with sixteen other titles. Challenged, but retained as part of a supplemental reading list at the Shawnee School in Lima, OH (1999). Several parents described its content as vulgar and "X-rated."
  • Removed from the Ferguson High School library in Newport News, VA (1999). Students may request and borrow the book with parental approval.
  • Challenged, along with seventeen other titles in the Fairfax County, VA elementary and secondary libraries (2002), by a group called Parents Against Bad Books in Schools. The group contends the books "contain profanity and descriptions of drug abuse, sexually explicit conduct, and torture.” 
  • Challenged in Burke County (2008) schools in Morganton, NC by parents concerned about the homosexuality, rape, and incest portrayed in the book. 
Ulysses, by James Joyce
  • Burned in the U.S. (1918), Ireland (1922), Canada (1922), England (1923) and banned in England (1929).
Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  • Challenged at the St. Johns County Schools in St. Augustine, FL (1995). Retained on the Round Rock, TX Independent High School reading list (1996) after a challenge that the book was too violent.
  • Challenged by a member of the Madawaska, ME School Committee (1997) because of the book's language. The 1987 Pulitzer Prize winning novel has been required reading for the advanced placement English class for six years.
  • Challenged in the Sarasota County, FL schools (1998) because of sexual material. Retained on the Northwest Suburban High School District 214 reading listing in Arlington Heights, IL (2006), along with eight other challenged titles. A board member, elected amid promises to bring her Christian beliefs into all board decision-making, raised the controversy based on excerpts from the books she’d found on the Internet. 
  • Challenged in the Coeur d’Alene School District, ID (2007). Some parents say the book, along with five others, should require parental permission for students to read them.
  • Pulled from the senior Advanced Placement (AP) English class at Eastern High School in Louisville, KY (2007) because two parents complained that the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about antebellum slavery depicted the inappropriate topics of bestiality, racism, and sex. The principal ordered teachers to start over with The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne in preparation for upcoming AP exams.
The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  • Challenged at the Dallas, TX Independent School District high school libraries (1974). 
  • Challenged at the Sully Buttes, SD High School (1981). Challenged at the Owen, NC High School (1981) because the book is "demoralizing inasmuch as it implies that man is little more than an animal."
  • Challenged at the Marana, AZ High School (1983) as an inappropriate reading assignment.
  • Challenged at the Olney, TX Independent School District (1984) because of "excessive violence and bad language." A committee of the Toronto, Canada Board of Education ruled on June 23, 1988, that the novel is "racist and recommended that it be removed from all schools." Parents and members of the black community complained about a reference to "niggers" in the book and said it denigrates blacks.
  • Challenged in the Waterloo, IA schools (1992) because of profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women and the disabled.
  • Challenged, but retained on the ninth-grade accelerated English reading list in Bloomfield, NY (2000).
1984, by George Orwell
  • Challenged in the Jackson County, FL (1981) because Orwell's novel is "pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter."
Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Banned as obscene in France (1956-1959), in England (1955-59), in Argentina (1959), and in New Zealand (1960). The South African Directorate of Publications announced on November 27, 1982, that Lolita has been taken off the banned list, eight years after a request for permission to market the novel in paperback had been refused. 
  • Challenged at the Marion-Levy Public Library System in Ocala, FL (2006). The Marion County commissioners voted to have the county attorney review the novel that addresses the themes of pedophilia and incest, to determine if it meets the state law’s definition of “unsuitable for minors.” 
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  • Banned in Ireland (1953); Syracuse, IN (1974); Oil City, PA (I977); Grand Blanc, MI (1979); Continental, OH (1980) and other communities.
  • Challenged in Greenville, SC (1977) by the Fourth Province of the Knights of the Ku Klux KIan; Vernon Verona Sherill, NY School District (1980); St. David, AZ (1981) and Tell City, IN (1982) due to "profanity and using God's name in vain."
  • Banned from classroom use at the Scottsboro, AL Skyline High School (1983) due to "profanity." The Knoxville, TN School Board chairman vowed to have "filthy books" removed from Knoxville's public schools (1984) and picked Steinbeck's novel as the first target due to "its vulgar language."
  • Reinstated at the Christian County, KY school libraries and English classes (1987) after being challenged as vulgar and offensive. 
  • Challenged in the Marion County, WV schools (1988), at the Wheaton Warrenville, IL Middle School (1988), and at the Berrien Springs, MI High School (1988) because the book contains profanity.
  • Removed from the Northside High School in Tuscaloosa, AL (1989) because the book "has profane use of God's name."
  • Challenged as a summer youth program reading assignment in Chattanooga, TN (1989) because "Steinbeck is known to have had an anti business attitude." In addition, "he was very questionable as to his patriotism." Removed from all reading lists and collected at the White Chapel High School in Pine Bluff, AR (1989) because of objections to language.
  • Challenged as appropriate for high school reading lists in the Shelby County, TN school system (1989) because the novel contains "offensive language." 
  • Challenged, but retained in a Salina, KS (1990) tenth grade English class despite concerns that it contains "profanity" and "takes the Lord's name in vain."
  • Challenged by a Fresno, CA (1991) parent as a tenth grade English college preparatory curriculum assignment, citing profanity" and "racial slurs." The book was retained, and the child of the objecting parent was provided with an alternative reading assignment. Challenged in the Rivera, TX schools (1990) because it contains profanity.
  • Challenged as curriculum material at the Ringgold High School in Carroll Township, PA (1991) because the novel contains terminology offensive to blacks. Removed and later returned to the Suwannee, FL High School library (1991) because the book is "indecent"
  • Challenged at the Jacksboro, TN High School (1991) because the novel contains "blasphemous" language, excessive cursing, and sexual overtones. 
  • Challenged as required reading in the Buckingham County, VA schools (1991) because of profanity. In 1992 a coalition of community members and clergy in Mobile, AL requested that local school officials form a special textbook screening committee to "weed out objectionable things." Steinbeck's novel was the first target because it contains "profanity" and "morbid and depressing themes."
  • Temporarily removed from the Hamilton, OH High School reading list (1992) after a parent complained about its vulgarity and racial slurs.
  • Challenged in the Waterloo, IA schools (1992) and the Duval County, FL public school libraries (1992) because of profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women, and the disabled. 
  • Challenged at the Modesto, CA High School as recommended reading (1992) because of "offensive and racist language." The word "nigger" appears in the book.
  • Challenged at the Oak Hill High School in Alexandria, LA (1992) because of profanity. Challenged as an appropriate English curriculum assignment at the Mingus, AZ Union High School (1993) because of "profane language, moral statement, treatment of the retarded, and the violent ending."
  • Pulled from a classroom by the Putnam County, TN school superintendent (1994) "due to the language." Later, after discussions with the school district counsel, it was reinstated.
  • The book was challenged in the Loganville, GA High School (1994) because of its "vulgar language throughout."
  • Challenged in the Galena, KS school library (1995) because of the book's language and social implications.
  • Retained in the Bemidji, MN schools (1995) after challenges to the book's "objectionable" language. Challenged at the Stephens County High School library in Toccoa, GA (I995) because of "curse words." The book was retained.
  • Challenged, but retained in a Warm Springs, VA High School (1995) English class. Banned from the Washington Junior High School curriculum in Peru, IL (1997) because it was deemed "age inappropriate."
  • Challenged, but retained, in the Louisville, OH high school English classes (1997) because of profanity.
  • Removed, restored, restricted, and eventually retained at the Bay County schools in Panama City, FL (1997). A citizen group, the 100 Black United, Inc., requested the novel's removal and "any other inadmissible literary books that have racial slurs in them, such as the using of the word 'Nigger.'"
  • Challenged as a reading list assignment for a ninth grade literature class, but retained at the Sauk Rapids Rice High School in St. Cloud, MN (1997). A parent complained that the book's use of racist language led to racist behavior and racial harassment.
  • Challenged in O'Hara Park Middle School classrooms in Oakley, CA (1998) because it contains racial epithets.
  • Challenged, but retained, in the Bryant, AR school library (1998) because of a parent's complaint that the book "takes God's name in vain 15 times and uses Jesus's name lightly." 
  • Challenged at the Barron, WI School District (1998). Challenged, but retained in the sophomore curriculum at West Middlesex, PA High School (1999) despite objections to the novel's profanity.
  • Challenged in the Tomah, WI School District (1999) because the novel is violent and contains obscenities.
  • Challenged as required reading at the high school in Grandville, MI (2002) because the book "is full of racism, profanity, and foul language."
  • Banned from the George County, MS schools (2002) because of profanity. Challenged in the Normal, IL Community High Schools (2003) because the books contains "racial slurs, profanity, violence, and does not represent traditional values." An alternative book, Steinbeck's The Pearl, was offered but rejected by the family challenging the novel. The committee then recommended The House on Mango Street and The Way to Rainy Mountain as alternatives. 
  • Retained in the Greencastle-Antrim, PA (2006) tenth-grade English classes. A complaint was filed because of “racial slurs” and profanity used throughout the novel. The book has been used in the high school for more than thirty years, and those who object to its content have the option of reading an alternative reading. 
  • Challenged at the Newton, IA High School (2007) because of concerns about profanity and the portrayal of Jesus Christ. Newton High School has required students to read the book since at least the early 1980s. In neighboring Des Moines, it is on the recommended reading list for ninth-grade English, and it is used for some special education students in the eleventh and twelfth grades. 
  • Retained in the Olathe, KS ninth grade curriculum (2007) despite a parent calling the novel a “worthless, profanity-riddled book” which is “derogatory towards African Americans, women, and the developmentally disabled.” 
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
  • Banned in Strongsville, OH (1972), but the school board's action was overturned in 1976 by a U.S. District Court in Minarcini v. Strongsville City School District.
  • Challenged at the Dallas, TX Independent School District high school libraries (1974); in Snoqualmie, WA (1979) because of its several references to women as "whores."
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  • Banned in Ireland (1932). Removed from classrooms in Miller, MO (1980), because it makes promiscuous sex "look like fun."
  • Challenged frequently throughout the required reading. Challenged as required reading at the Yukon, OK High School (1988) because of "the book's language and moral content."
  • Challenged as required reading in the Corona-Norco, CA Unified School District (1993) because it is "centered around negative activity." Specifically, parents objected that the characters' sexual behavior directly opposed the health curriculum, which taught sexual abstinence until marriage. The book was retained, and teachers selected alternatives if students object to Huxley's novel.
  • Removed from the Foley, AL High School Library (2000) pending review, because a parent complained that its characters showed contempt for religion, marriage, and family. The parent complained to the school and to Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.
  • Challenged, but retained in the South Texas Independent School District in Mercedes, TX (2003). Parents objected to the adult themes—sexuality, drugs, suicide—that appeared in the novel. Huxley's book was part of the summer Science Academy curriculum. The board voted to give parents more control over their children's choices by requiring principals to automatically offer an alternative to a challenged book. 
  • Retained in the Coeur D’Alene, ID School District (2008) despite objections that the book has too many references to sex and drug use.
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
  • A Wisconsin survey revealed in 1963 that the John Birch Society had challenged the novel's use; it objected to the words "masses will revolt." In 1968, the New York State English Council's Committee on Defense Against Censorship conducted a comparable study in New York State English classrooms. Its findings identified the novel on its list of "problem books"; the reason cited was that "Orwell was a communist."
  • Suppressed from being displayed at the 1977 Moscow, Russia International Book Fair.
  • A survey of censorship challenges in the schools, conducted in DeKalb County for the period of 1979 to 1982, revealed that the novel had been objected to for its political theories.
  • Banned from Bay County's four middle schools and three high schools in Panama City, FL by the Bay County school superintendent in 1987. After 44 parents filed a suit against the district claiming that its instructional aids policy denies constitutional rights, the Bay County School Board reinstated the book, along with sixty-four others banned.
  • Banned from schools in the United Arab Emirates, along with 125 others in 2002. The Ministry of Education banned it on the grounds that it contains written or illustrated material that contradicts Islamic and Arab values—in this text, pictures of alcoholic drinks, pigs, and other "indecent images."
The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
  • Banned in Boston, MA (1930), Ireland (1953), Riverside, CA (1960), San Jose, CA (1960). 
  • Burned in Nazi bonfires in Germany (1933).
As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
  • Banned in the Graves County School District in Mayfield, KY (1986) because it contains "offensive and obscene passages referring to abortion and used God's name in vain." The decision was reversed a week later after intense pressure from the ACLU and considerable negative publicity.
  • Challenged as a required reading assignment in an advanced English class of Pulaski County High School in Somerset, KY (1987) because the book contains "profanity and a segment about masturbation."
  • Challenged, but retained, in the Carroll County, MD schools (1991). Two school board members were concerned about the book's coarse language and dialect. Banned at Central High School in Louisville, KY (1994) temporarily because the book uses profanity and questions the existence of God.
A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
  • The June 1929 issue of Scribner's Magazine, which ran Hemingway's novel, was banned in Boston, MA (1929).
  • Banned in Italy (1929) because of its painfully accurate account of the Italian retreat from Caporetto, Italy.
  • Burned by the Nazis in Germany (1933).
  • Banned in Ireland (1939). Challenged at the Dallas, TX Independent School District high school libraries (1974).
  • Challenged at the Vernon-Verona-Sherill, NY School District (1980) as a "sex novel."
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Challenged for sexual explicitness, but retained on the Stonewall Jackson High School's academically advanced reading list in Brentsville, VA (1997). A parent objected to the novel's language and sexual explicitness.
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
  • Excerpts banned in Butler, PA (1975).
  • Removed from the high school English reading list in St. Francis, WI (1975).
  • Retained in the Yakima, WA schools (1994) after a five-month dispute over what advanced high school students should read in the classroom. Two parents raised concerns about profanity and images of violence and sexuality in the book and requested that it be removed from the reading list. 
Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
  • Challenged, but retained, in the Columbus, OH schools (1993). The complainant believed that the book contains language degrading to blacks, and is sexually explicit.
  • Removed from required reading lists and library shelves in the Richmond County, GA. School District (1994) after a parent complained that passages from the book are "filthy and inappropriate."
  • Challenged at the St. Johns County Schools in St. Augustine, FL (1995). Removed from the St. Mary's County, MD schools' approved text list (1998) by the superintendent, overruling a faculty committee recommendation. Complainants referred to the novel as "filth," "trash," and "repulsive." 
  • Reinstated in the Shelby, MI school Advanced Placement English curriculum (2009), but parents are to be informed in writing and at a meeting about the book’s content. Students not wanting to read the book can choose an alternative without academic penalty. The superintendent had suspended the book from the curriculum.
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
  • Banned from Anaheim, CA Union High School District English classrooms (1978). 
  • Challenged in Waukegan, IL School District (1984) because the novel uses the word "nigger."
Native Son, by Richard Wright
  • Challenged in Goffstown, NH (1978); Elmwood Park, NJ (1978) due to "objectionable" language; and North Adams, MA (1981) due to the book's "violence, sex, and profanity." 
  • Challenged at the Berrian Springs, MI High School in classrooms and libraries (1988) because the novel is "vulgar, profane, and sexually explicit."
  • Retained in the Yakima, WA schools (1994) after a five-month dispute over what advanced high school students should read in the classroom. Two parents raised concerns about profanity and images of violence and sexuality in the book and requested that it be removed from the reading list. 
  • Challenged as part of the reading list for Advanced Placement English classes at Northwest High School in High Point, NC (1996). The book was challenged because it is "sexually graphic and violent."
  • Removed from Irvington High School in Fremont, CA (1998) after a few parents complained the book was unnecessarily violent and sexually explicit.
  • Challenged in the Hamilton High School curriculum in Fort Wayne, IN (1998) because of the novel's graphic language and sexual content.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey
  • Challenged in the Greeley, CO public school district (1971) as a non-required American Culture reading.
  • In 1974, five residents of Strongsville, OH, sued the board of education to remove the novel. Labeling it "pornographic," they charged the novel "glorifies criminal activity, has a tendency to corrupt juveniles and contains descriptions of bestiality, bizarre violence, and torture, dismemberment, death, and human elimination."
  • Removed from public school libraries in Randolph, NY, and Alton, OK (1975).
  • Removed from the required reading list in Westport, MA (1977).
  • Banned from the St. Anthony, ID Freemont High School classrooms (1978) and the instructor fired. The teacher sued. A decision in the case—Fogarty v. Atchley—was never published.
  • Challenged at the Merrimack, NH High School (1982).
  • Challenged as part of the curriculum in an Aberdeen, WA High School honors English class (1986) because the book promotes "secular humanism." The school board voted to retain the title.
  • Challenged at the Placentia-Yorba Linda, CA Unified School District (2000) after complaints by parents stated that teachers "can choose the best books, but they keep choosing this garbage over and over again."
Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Challenged in many communities, but burned in Drake, ND (1973).
  • Banned in Rochester, MI because the novel "contains and makes references to religious matters" and thus fell within the ban of the establishment clause. An appellate court upheld its usage in the school in Todd v Rochester Community Schools, 41 Mich. App. 320, 200 N. W 2d 90 (1972).
  • Banned in Levittown, NY (1975), North Jackson, OH (1979), and Lakeland, FL (1982) because of the "book's explicit sexual scenes, violence, and obscene language."
  • Barred from purchase at the Washington Park High School in Racine, WI (1984) by the district administrative assistant for instructional services.
  • Challenged at the Owensboro, KY High School library (1985) because of "foul language, a section depicting a picture of an act of bestiality, a reference to 'Magic Fingers' attached to the protagonist's bed to help him sleep, and the sentence: 'The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of the fly of God Almighty."' 
  • Restricted to students who have parental permission at the four Racine, WI Unified District high school libraries (1986) because of "language used in the book, depictions of torture, ethnic slurs, and negative portrayals of women."
  • Challenged at the LaRue County, KY High School library (1987) because "the book contains foul language and promotes deviant sexual behavior.”
  • Banned from the Fitzgerald, GA schools (1987) because it was filled with profanity and full of explicit sexual references:' Challenged in the Baton Rouge, LA public high school libraries (1988) because the book is "vulgar and offensive:'
  • Challenged in the Monroe, MI public schools (1989) as required reading in a modem novel course for high school juniors and seniors because of the book's language and the way women are portrayed. 
  • Retained on the Round Rock, TX Independent High School reading list (1996) after a challenge that the book was too violent.
  • Challenged as an eleventh grade summer reading option in Prince William County, VA (1998) because the book "was rife with profanity and explicit sex:"
  • Removed as required reading for sophomores at the Coventry, RI High School (2000) after a parent complained that it contains vulgar language, violent imagery, and sexual content.
  • Retained on the Northwest Suburban High School District 214 reading list in Arlington Heights, IL (2006), along with eight other challenged titles. A board member, elected amid promises to bring her Christian beliefs into all board decision-making, raised the controversy based on excerpts from the books she'd found on the internet. 
  • Challenged in the Howell, MI High School (2007) because of the book's strong sexual content. In response to a request from the president of the Livingston Organization for Values in Education, or LOVE, the county's top law enforcement official reviewed the books to see whether laws against distribution of sexually explicit materials to minors had been broken. "After reading the books in question, it is clear that the explicit passages illustrated a larger literary, artistic or political message and were not included solely to appeal to the prurient interests of minors," the county prosecutor wrote. "Whether these materials are appropriate for minors is a decision to be made by the school board, but I find that they are not in violation of criminal laws."
For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
  • Declared non-mailable by the U.S. Post Office (1940). On Feb. 21, 1973, eleven Turkish book publishers went on trial before an Istanbul martial law tribunal on charges of publishing, possessing, and selling books in violation of an order of the Istanbul martial law command. They faced possible sentences of between one month's and six months’ imprisonment "for spreading propaganda unfavorable to the state" and the confiscation of their books. Eight booksellers also were on trial with the publishers on the same charge involving For Whom the Bell Tolls. 
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
  • Banned in Italy (1929), Yugoslavia (1929), and burned in Nazi bonfires (1933).
Go Tell It on the Mountain, by James Baldwin
  • Challenged as required reading in the Hudson Falls, NY schools (1994) because the book has recurring themes of rape, masturbation, violence, and degrading treatment of women. 
  • Challenged as a ninth-grade summer reading option in Prince William County, VA (1988) because the book is "rife with profanity and explicit sex."
All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren
  • Challenged at the Dallas, TX Independent School District high school libraries (1974).
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.
The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
  • Banned from public libraries in Yugoslavia (1929). Burned in the Nazi bonfires because of Sinclair's socialist views (1933).
  • Banned in East Germany (1956) as inimical to communism. 
  • Banned in South Korea (1985).
Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
  • Banned by U.S. Customs (1929).
  • Banned in Ireland (1932), Poland (1932), Australia (1959), Japan (1959), India (1959).
  • Banned in Canada (1960) until 1962. 
  • Dissemination of Lawrence’s novel has been stopped in China (1987) because the book “will corrupt the minds of young people and is also against the Chinese tradition.”
A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
  • In 1973 a bookseller in Orem, UT was arrested for selling the novel. Charges were later dropped, but the book seller was forced to close the store and relocate to another city. 
  • Removed from Aurora, CO high school (1976) due to "objectionable" language and from high school classrooms in Westport, MA (1977) because of "objectionable" language.
  • Removed from two Anniston, AL High school libraries (1982), but later reinstated on a restricted basis.
The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
  • Retained on the Northwestern Suburban High School District 214 reading list in Arlington Heights, IL along with eight other challenged titles in 2006. A board member, elected amid promises to bring her Christian beliefs into all board decision-making, raised the controversy based on excerpts from the books she'd found on the Internet.
  • First published in 1899, this novel so disturbed critics and the public that it was banished for decades afterward.
In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
  • Banned, but later reinstated after community protests at the Windsor Forest High School in Savannah, GA (2000). The controversy began in early 1999 when a parent complained about sex, violence, and profanity in the book that was part of an Advanced Placement English Class.
Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie
  • Banned in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Quatar, Indonesia, South Africa, and India because of its criticism of Islam.
  • Burned in West Yorkshire, England (1989) and temporarily withdrawn from two bookstores on the advice of police who took threats to staff and property seriously.
  • In Pakistan five people died in riots against the book. Another man died a day later in Kashmir.
  • Ayatollah Khomeni issued a fatwa or religious edict, stating, "I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of the Satanic Verses, which is against Islam, the prophet, and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, have been sentenced to death." 
  • Challenged at the Wichita, KS Public Library (1989) because the book is "blasphemous to the prophet Mohammed."
  • In Venezuela, owning or reading it was declared a crime under penalty of 15 months' imprisonment.
  • In Japan, the sale of the English-language edition was banned under the threat of fines.
  • The governments of Bulgaria and Poland also restricted its distribution.
  • In 1991, in separate incidents, Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator, was stabbed to death and its Italian translator, Ettore Capriolo, was seriously wounded. In 1993 William Nygaard, its Norwegian publisher, was shot and seriously injured.
Sophie's Choice, by William Styron
  • Banned in South Africa in 1979.
  • Returned to La Mirada High School library (CA) in 2002 after a complaint about its sexual content prompted the school to pull the award-winning novel about a tormented Holocaust survivor.
Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence
  • In 1961 an Oklahoma City group called Mothers United for Decency hired a trailer, dubbed it "smutmobile," and displayed books deemed objectionable, including Lawrence's novel.
Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Strongsville, Ohio School Board (1972) voted to withdraw this title from the school library; this action was overturned in 1976 by a U.S. District Court in Minarcini v. Strongsville City School District, 541 F. 2d 577 (6th Cir. 1976). 
  • Challenged at Merrimack, NH High School (1982).
A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
  • Challenged in Vernon-Verona-Sherill, NY School District (1980) as a "filthy, trashy sex novel."
  • Challenged at the Fannett-Metal High School in Shippensburg, PA (1985) because of its allegedly offensive language.
  • Challenged as appropriate for high school reading lists in the Shelby County, TN school system (1989) because the novel contains "offensive language." 
  • Challenged, but retained in the Champaign, IL high school English classes (1991) despite claims that “unsuitable language” makes it inappropriate. 
  • Challenged by the parent of a high school student in Troy, IL (1991) citing profanity and negative attitudes. Students were offered alternative assignments while the school board took the matter under advisement, but no further action was taken on the complaint.
  • Challenged at the McDowell County, NC schools (1996) because of "graphic language."
Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
  • Found obscene in Boston, MA Superior Court (1965). The finding was reversed by the State Supreme Court the following year.
Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
  • Alabama Representative Gerald Allen (R-Cottondale) proposed legislation that would prohibit the use of public funds for the "purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle." The bill also proposed that novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed. The bill would impact all Alabama school, public, and university libraries. While it would ban books like Heather Has Two Mommies, it could also include classic and popular novels with gay characters such as Brideshead Revisited, The Color Purple or The Picture of Dorian Gray (2005).
Women in Love, by DH Lawrence
  • Seized by John Summers of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice and declared obscene (1922).
The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
  • Banned in Canada (1949) and Australia (1949).
Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
  • Banned from U.S. Customs (1934).
  • The U.S. Supreme Court found the novel not obscene (1964). Banned in Turkey (1986).
An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser
  • Banned in Boston, MA (1927) and burned by the Nazis in Germany (1933) because it "deals with low love affairs."
Rabbit, Run, by John Updike
  • Banned in Ireland in 1962 because the Irish Board of Censors found the work "obscene" and "indecent," objecting particularly to the author's handling of the characters' sexuality, the "explicit sex acts" and "promiscuity." The work was officially banned from sales in Ireland until the introduction of the revised Censorship Publications Bill in 1967.
  • Restricted to high school students with parental permission in the six Aroostock County, ME community high school libraries (1976) because of passages in the book dealing with sex and an extramarital affair.
  • Removed from the required reading list for English class at the Medicine Bow, WY Junior High School (1986) because of sexual references and profanity in the book.

This list is sheerly astounding! It really shows the scope of challenges/bannings occurring around the world. I find the instances of burnings particularly alarming. 

Which classics have you read on this list?


Friday, October 2, 2015

Banned Books Week - Stephen King #bannedbooksweek

I decided to touch on horror today for Banned Books Week since it is officially the scariest month of the year (like the spooky blog look?), and although this isn't my horror blog, I felt it was important to talk about challenged books and Stephen King.

I was looking through the lists of Most Frequently Challenged Authors on the ALA site and I noticed that Stephen King is the only true horror author listed. Why is Stephen King the only horror author challenged frequently, when there are so many other horror authors out there? I came to the conclusion that 1) it's because King is probably the most famous horror author in the world or 2) there is a sore lack of horror reading going on in this country, especially among young people. Referring to number 2, it's probably true that not many school libraries actually carry horror novels. I'm trying to look back to when I was in school and I can't really remember many horror novels in our school library. I started reading horror at a fairly young age (John Saul in 5th or 6th grade) and I obtained my horror books from either the public library, or from my parents' books. I remember reading The Entity in 7th or 8th grade. I wonder what my teachers thought?

I also started reading Stephen King at a pretty young age. My parents were fans and we also saw all the films that were released so it was natural for me to become a fan. And a lifelong fan, at that. My parents did not shelter me from books and what went on in them. If I had a question or concern, they were happy to discuss it. On the other side of the coin, I'm sure there were parents who would have been appalled that my parents let me read King's books at that age. And there lies the question. Who decides what is right for kids when it comes to books? The parents, that's who. So, if one parent objects to Stephen King and thinks that his books should be removed from the hands of all kids, well, that's where we have a problem.

Stephen King was one of the most frequently challenged authors of the 21st century in the years 2002 and 2003. According to the American Library Association, Stephen King is one of the most "challenged" authors alive, meaning parents still want his books placed on special shelves in school libraries — or removed altogether. Pretty much every book Stephen King has ever written has been challenged and/or banned at one time or other. According to this site, every SK book on their lists have even been burned in protest.

Here are some factoids on instances where Stephen King's books have been challenged and some commentary on the subject from the man himself:

The Shining
Considered dangerous because it "contains violence and demonic possession and
ridicules the Christian religion."
Challenged by Campbell County, Wyoming, school system, 1983.
Banned by Washington County, Alabama, Board of Education, 1985.
(all from gumbopages)

The Stand
Reason: "sexual language, casual sex, and violence"

Banned and Challenged Books In Texas Public Schools

2002-2003 The Brookeland ISD reported that all Stephen King books were banned in all district schools.

The challenge was brought by a parent, and “…also brought to the attention of the Board of

Trustees.” This challenge was listed as one entry in our main report or our summary tables, since
it was not specific as to title and because of the large number of Stephen King titles in existence. (from ACLU Texas)

Considered "trash" that is especially harmful for "younger girls."
Challenged by Clark High School library, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1975.
Placed on special closed shelf in Union High School library, Vergennes,
Vermont, 1978.

This quote was taken from an article Stephen King wrote which was published as a guest column in the March 20, 1992 issue of The Bangor Daily News. Read the entire article here.

So, just for the record, here is what I'd say if I still took time out from doing my work to defend it.

First, to the kids: There are people in your home town who have taken certain books off the shelves of your school library. Do not argue with them; do not protest; do not organize or attend rallies to have the books put back on their shelves. Don't waste your time or your energy. Instead, hustle down to your public library, where these frightened people's reach must fall short in a democracy, or to your local bookstore, and get a copy of what has been banned. Read it carefully and discover what it is your elders don't want you to know. In many cases you'll finish the banned book in question wondering what all the fuss was about. In others, however, you will find vital information about the human condition. It doesn't hurt to remember that John Steinbeck, J.D. Salinger, and even Mark Twain have been banned in this country's public schools over the last 20 years.

Second, to the parents in these towns: There are people out there who are deciding what your kids can read, and they don't care what you think because they are positive their ideas of what's proper and what's not are better, clearer than your own. Do you believe they are? Think carefully before you decide to accord the book-banners this right of cancellation, and remember that they don't believe in democracy but rather in a kind of intellectual autocracy. If they are left to their own devices, a great deal of good literature may soon disappear from the shelves of school libraries simply because good books -- books that make us think and feel -- always generate controversy.

If you are not careful and diligent about defending the right of your children to read, there won't be much left, especially at the junior-high level where kids really begin to develop a lively life of the mind, but books about heroic boys who come off the bench to hit home runs in the bottom of the ninth and shy girls with good personalities who finally get that big prom date with the boy of their dreams. Is this what you want for your kids, keeping in mind that controversy and surprise -- sometimes even shock -- are often the whetstone on which young minds are sharpened?

Third, to the other interested citizens of these towns: Please remember that book-banning is censorship, and that censorship in a free society is always a serious matter -- even when it happens in a junior high, it is serious. A proposal to ban a book should always be given the gravest consideration. Book-banners, after all, insist that the entire community should see things their way, and only their way. When a book is banned, a whole set of thoughts is locked behind the assertion that there is only one valid set of values, one valid set of beliefs, one valid perception of the world. It's a scary idea, especially in a society which has been built on the ideas of free choice and free thought.

Definitely food for thought, and eloquently spoken, as usual, Mr. King.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cat Thursday - #bannedbooksweek

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

Cats (and dogs) are serious about Banned Books Week too!

I created this one last year...

Next week kicks off my weekly Halloween theme! Yay!

Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Easy-Linky widget will appear right here!
This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
If this widget does not appear, click here to display it.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Banned Books Week - Grimms' Fairy Tales #bannedbooksweek

Having just finished reading The Brothers Grimm: Two Lives, One Legacy by Donald R. Hettinga, it got me thinking about instances I'd heard of these tales being challenged in the recent past. So I decided to examine the topic in today's post.

When Wilhelm Grimm was completing the second edition of the fairy tales, consolidating the two earlier volumes into one, he decided to make Household Tales less a book for adults and more a book for children. Despite censors wanting him to edit out "whatever refers to certain situations and relations that take place every day and simply cannot be hidden," (by "certain situations and relations," Wilhelm meant sex and pregnancies outside of marriage, and also the violence that had been complained of), Wilhelm was against removing these instances from the books. He said, "You can fool yourself into thinking that what can be removed from a book can also be removed from real life." (The Brothers Grimm, p. 100)

That last quote..fitting for Banned Books Week, I think. 

These are just a few instances of Grimms' tales or complete collections being challenged:

  1. Citing concerns about alcohol use, an illustrated edition of "Little Red Riding Hood" was banned in two California school districts in 1989 because it depicted our heroine taking food and wine to her grandmother.
  2. The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm was banned in classrooms below the 6th grade in Arizona in 1994, due to "excessive violence, negative portrayals of female characters, and anti-Semitic references."
  3. “Snow White” was restricted to students with parental permission at the Duval, Fl County public school libraries (1992) because of its graphic violence: a hunter kills a wild boar, and a wicked witch orders Snow White’s heart torn out.

Notably, in regards to Snow White, I read the Caldecott Award winning Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm several years back for my Children's Literature course in college and in this version, faithful to the Grimms' original, at the end, the evil stepmother is forced to dance in red-hot iron shoes until she falls down dead. I'm sure this might also have contributed to the challenge above.

From his essay, Guardians of the Fairy Tale: The Brothers Grimm, Thomas O'Neill says:

The Grimms’ texts have undergone so many adaptations and translations, often with the intent of censoring objectionable material such as the violence meted out to villains or of making the themes more relevant to contemporary tastes, that most of us know them only in their sanitized versions. The dust-jacket copy of a recent translation plaintively wonders if all the retellings don’t “greatly reduce the tales’ power to touch our emotions and intrigue our imaginations.” 

In a fourth-grade classroom in Steinau, Germany, the town where the Grimms spent part of their childhood, I listened as the storyteller Elfriede Kleinhans, an opponent of prim retellings, asked the boys and girls how the princess managed to turn a frog into a prince at the climax of the “The Frog King,” the first tale in the Grimms’ collection. “She kissed it,” the children sang out. “No,” said Kleinhans. “She threw the ugly frog at the wall as hard as she could, and it awoke as a prince. That’s what the real story says.” The children looked as if they didn’t believe her. 

Scholars and psychiatrists have thrown a camouflaging net over the stories with their relentless, albeit fascinating, question of “What does it mean?” Did the tossing of the frog symbolize the princess’s sexual awakening, as Freudian psychologist Bruno Bettelheim asserted, or does the princess provide a feminist role model, as Lutz Röhrich, a German folklorist, wondered, by defying the patriarchal authority of her father, the king? Or—maybe—a frog is just a frog. 

The tales have also fallen prey to ideologues and propagandists. Theorists of the Third Reich in Germany turned Little Red Riding Hood into a symbol of the German people, saved from the evil Jewish wolf. At the end of World War II, Allied commanders banned the publication of the Grimm tales in Germany in the belief that they had contributed to Nazi savagery. 

On campuses across Europe and the United States during the 1970s, the Grimms’ tales were scorned for promoting a sexist, authority-ridden worldview. “Madness Comes From Fairy Tales” was scrawled on walls in Germany. Some of the stories were rewritten to accommodate certain political tastes. A revision of “Cinderella,” for example, has the heroine organizing a union of local maids, prompting the king to arrest her, after which she emigrates to the U.S. to escape the tyranny of kings and queens. 

Asked about this landslide of commentary by shrinks and scholars and ideologues, Bernhard Lauer, director and curator of the Museum of the Brothers Grimm in Kassel, Germany, looked sadly at me and protested, “The tales are literary masterpieces! They are not recipes for everyday life.”

There are some very good reasons why kids should read the non-Disney versions of fairy tales (and don't get me wrong...I like the Disney versions just fine).

These original tales teach life lessons and encourage intelligence. For instance, “The Little Mermaid” was not written to teach us how to marry a prince, but to warn us that our actions have consequences. “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” --Albert Einstein

Fairy tales offer up hope. Hope of redemption, that good can conquer evil, that our enemies will be vanquished. “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” --Neil Gaiman

The original tales tell the truth...often hard truths. The Disney versions often make happily ever after seem so easy. The original versions do not all have happy endings. They show us that bad things can, and do, happen. “When I was a little girl I used to read fairy tales. In fairy tales you meet Prince Charming and he's everything you ever wanted. In fairy tales the bad guy is very easy to spot. The bad guy is always wearing a black cape so you always know who he is. Then you grow up and you realize that Prince Charming is not as easy to find as you thought. You realize the bad guy is not wearing a black cape and he's not easy to spot; he's really funny, and he makes you laugh, and he has perfect hair.” --Taylor Swift

They teach kindness and the true meaning of love. “There is the great lesson of 'Beauty and the Beast,' that a thing must be loved before it is lovable.” --G.K. Chesterton

Fairy tales expand our idea of the world of possibilities. These stories bring fairies, magicians, giants, and trolls into our ordinary world, stretching the imagination and urging us to think "What if?" And though we realize these stories are fiction, we still like to believe they're true. “I really feel that we're not giving children enough credit for distinguishing what's right and what's wrong. I, for one, devoured fairy tales as a little girl. I certainly didn't believe that kissing frogs would lead me to a prince, or that eating a mysterious apple would poison me, or that with the magical "Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo" I would get a beautiful dress and a pumpkin carriage. I also don't believe that looking in a mirror and saying "Candyman, Candyman, Candyman" will make some awful serial killer come after me. I believe that many children recognize Harry Potter for what it is, fantasy literature. I'm sure there will always be some that take it too far, but that's the case with everything. I believe it's much better to engage in dialog with children to explain the difference between fantasy and reality. Then they are better equipped to deal with people who might have taken it too far.” --J.K. Rowling

Fairy tales give kids scary in a safe format. They allow kids to learn that scary situations can be dealt with. As we read, we transport ourselves into the stories and, being stories, they allow us to avoid experiencing the scary directly. Rather, we learn how characters face fear. Lessons are learned from the experiences in the stories. “Every fairy tale had a bloody lining. Every one had teeth and claws.” --Alice Hoffman

Perhaps a very important reason for reading the less Disney versions of fairy tales is to show our girls that they can be who and what they want and they don't need Prince Charming to rescue them. Let's face it, Disney has really championed the Prince Charming idea (with the exception of recent films, such as Tangled, Brave, and Frozen, for which I commend Disney for bringing girls out of the shadow of being rescued by a guy), and in this age when women are still not getting the equal treatment/rights they deserve, it's important for girls to know that anything is possible. “Yet what keeps me from dissolving right now into a complete fairy-tale shimmer is this solid truth, a truth which has veritably built my bones over the last few years--I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue.” --Elizabeth Gilbert

So, you see...the banning or challenging of original fairy tales could take valuable learning experiences out of the hands of our children. Yes, many of these tales may be harsh or violent, and that is when it is important to discuss the tales with our children by asking questions like, "What truth about the world is this story telling you?" or "Why did the evil stepmother meet such an evil end? Could her punishment have been dealt with in a different way?"

Conversation is key to helping our kids understand what is meant and what the lesson is. Completely disallowing them to have these learning experiences, not to mention the fun, is the true tragedy of banning and challenging books.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Banned Books Week - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks #bannedbooksweek

I decided to feature Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks today because this book was challenged by a parent in Tennessee, which is where I live.

Skloot's book is an award-winning account of science, ethics and medical history. It tells the riveting story of how one woman's cancerous cells were taken without her permission, and became an essential medical research breakthrough linked to an array of projects, including the polio vaccine.

Jackie Sims, a mother in Knoxville, Tennessee, whose son's school, the L&N STEM Academy, had the book on their summer reading list, took offense to her son (or any student, for that matter) reading the book and basically called it pornography.

When her son brought the book to her because certain passages were making him uncomfortable, she had this to say,

"I was shocked that there was so much graphic information in the book," Sims said.

What Sims read appalled her, she said, citing a passage that describes infidelity and another that describes Lacks' intimate discovery that she has a lump on her cervix.

"I consider the book pornographic," she said, adding it's the wording that bothers her most.

"It could be told in a different way," she said. "There's so many ways to say things without being that graphic in nature, and that's the problem I have with this book."

Though her son was issued an alternate text, per district policy, Sims wants the book removed from the hands of all Knox County Schools students.

And therein lies the problem. What right does she have to decide what other people's kids read or don't read?

This Tennessee parent agrees...

"To try and stop the book from being read by all students is, to me, a modern day kind of book burning…. If someone comes along and tries to take the book out of the curriculum, then that affects me and that affects my child…If the parent doesn't want the child to read it, the parent doesn't want the child to read it, but do not take away everybody else's choice to read that book."

The author, Rebecca Skloot weighed in on her Facebook page:

"Just in time for ‪#‎BannedBooksWeek, a parent in Tennessee has confused gynecology with pornography and is trying to get my book banned from the Knoxville high school system."

She also pointed to a comment left by the vice principal of the L&N STEM Academy: "Know that the book and teachers have the complete support from the administration of the school. It's an amazing book that fits with our STEM curriculum better than almost any book could! The next book that the sophomores are reading? Fahrenheit 451… Oh, sweet, sweet, irony."

It's great to see the educators in this case standing up for the literature. It's exactly this type of case that makes Banned Books Week so essential to the reading world. That this received such media attention shows that this issue is important to a great number of people. United we are strong!



Monday, September 28, 2015

Banned Books Week 2015 #bannedbooksweek

I missed kicking off Banned Books Week yesterday because I had a very busy Sunday. But that's okay. It's going on all week and I'll be sharing some books and tidbits the rest of the week. Banned Books Week is very important to me, as I believe that censorship is one of the greatest evils in the world, especially the censorship of the written word.

So, for those who may not know about this week, I will share, as I do each year, a bit about the history of Banned Books Week and what it's all about. I will also share an infographic from the ALA listing the top 10 most challenged books of 2014, along with other statistics for the year.

Why are books challenged?
Books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information. Read about Notable First Amendment Cases.

Censorship can be subtle, almost imperceptible, as well as blatant and overt, but, nonetheless, harmful. As John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty:

If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

On Liberty, John Stuart Mill

Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom:
  • the material was considered to be "sexually explicit"
  • the material contained "offensive language"
  • the materials was "unsuited to any age group"
Although this is a commendable motivation, Free Access to Libraries for Minors, an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA's basic policy concerning access to information) states that, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment.

As Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., in Texas v. Johnson , said most eloquently:

If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.

If we are to continue to protect our First Amendment, we would do well to keep in mind these words of Noam Chomsky:

If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.

Or these words of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas (" The One Un-American Act." Nieman Reports , vol. 7, no. 1, Jan. 1953, p. 20):

Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.

Who Challenges Books?

Throughout history, more and different kinds of people and groups of all persuasions than you might first suppose, who, for all sorts of reasons, have attempted—and continue to attempt—to suppress anything that conflicts with or anyone who disagrees with their own beliefs.

In his book Free Speech for Me—But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other, Nat Hentoff writes that “the lust to suppress can come from any direction.” He quotes Phil Kerby, a former editor of the Los Angeles Times, as saying, “Censorship is the strongest drive in human nature; sex is a weak second.”

According to the Challenges by Initiator, Institution, Type, and Year, parents challenge materials more often than any other group.

Source: American Library Association

What's the best way to promote the freedom to read this week...and beyond? 
  • first and foremost, read a banned/challenged book (or two or three)
  • talk about banned and challenged books with friends and family (knowledge is power)
  • blog about it...not just this week, but all year long. If you read a classic, or any book, that has been challenged in the past, share that info along with your book review
  • take the time to think to yourself about what it would be like to not be able to read what we want. This will renew your passion to act and inform. Awareness is also power. 
Check out this ALA infographic listing the top 10 challenged books of 2014. Share with me in the comments what you think about this list.


Popular Posts