Banned Books Week!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Today I'm going to talk about something I am very passionate about: books! I love to read, I have always loved to read. I have been extremely lucky to grow up with parents who do not try to censure the materials I want to read.

Sure, some of the books I read in middle school talked about sex. Instead of censuring me from reading those books, my parents sat me down and had real conversations with me about sex and growing up.

Some of the books I read talked about drugs and alcohol. My teachers did not refuse to let me take out the book in class and read it to myself, instead they encouraged me to voice my concerns and questions. My parents talked to me about the dangers of drug use, and helped me navigate adolescence without feeling like I needed substance abuse.

Books are intended to help us explore our world, and discover new things about the people, places, and ideas around us. If I am not reading something new or controversial, then what is the point? Every year when I see the top banned books of the year, I get so angry. Who would even want to censure children from reading?! That is the opposite of encouragement!

For that reason, I am going to list some of my favorite books on the banned book list, and why I think everyone should have the opportunity to read them.

1. Captain Underpants Series: Reason- "Unsuited for age group, offensive language, violence"

 Okay, seriously? First off, the "violence" in these books in cartoonish. And if you let your kids watch Spongebob Squarepants, you will see worse violence than in these books. Secondly, if by "offensive language" you mean the copious amount of mentions of "underpants", aren't you just glad someone is teaching your 7 year old to wear clean underwear?

This serious is tons of fun! They are a great starter serious for chapter books for kids learning to read. I can say from experience, it is hard to find books that boys will read without squirming saying it's a "girl" book. If they are interested in it, and it gets them excited about reading, I say let them go for it!

2. The Hunger Games: Reason- "Religious viewpoint,  unsuited to age group, desensitizes children to murder and war."

So first off, there is no way to "desensitize" a person to war. We see violence every single day in our society. We live in fear of terrorist attacks, war, and nuclear invasion. If your fear is a child being desensitized to that, then maybe they actually need a book like this. Sit them down, and talk about these issues. Talk about how sad it is, how upsetting it is, and how you feel about the violence of the world. Reading a book is not going to convince a kid that murder is a good thing. In fact, when you read this book, the violence breaks your heart and makes you want to see a glimpse of humanity in the world.

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian: Reason- "Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group."

I'm not sure what about this book makes you think it is racist, cause it is not explicitly racist. If you think it is racist against Indians, I hate to tell you this, but that is what those people go through every day of their lives. Calling attention to their plights is important. Kids need to know what happens to minorities in this country, and we need to talk to them about how to fix these problems and show compassion. If you think it is racist against white people: just, no. Reverse racism does not exist, and to say it does is just shoving your white privilege in the face of those less fortunate than you. This book goes a long way in showing kids how minorities live.

As far as offensive language is concerned, do you use that language? Have you ever heard it before? You can talk to your children about appropriate and inappropriate language. It is up to us to talk to kids about language so that when they do hear it, they know what to do and how to respond. Teach your kids that some words are bad words and that we shouldn't use them ourselves.

4. Looking for Alaska: Reason- "Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking, unsuited for age group/sexually explicit"

I'm going to let John Green, the author of this award winning novel explain this one to you.

I could literally go on for days talking about all the books that have been challenged, and how censuring our kids books is not good for their education. As a person going into education, one of my biggest fears is having a parent challenge a book I want to read with my students. I literally am going to have to practice my poker face so I don't explode, because it will inevitably happen some day. The best thing for us to do is have definitive reasons for reading books to children, and show that the lessons they learn through reading these books is far more valuable than if we refuse to let them read a book we disagree with.

Top 10 list of banned books for 2013:

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