Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Banned Books Week

I've been remiss this week: the ALA's Banned Books Week started on Saturday and ends October 4. I've written about it before, last year around this time, coincidentally.*

I try to take the opportunity to read, or re-read, a banned or challenged book in its honor. This year it's Phillip Pullman's The Golden Compass. The first time I read it, I was 13--a very sheltered, conservative 13. I squirmed as I read it, sure that lightning would strike me down at any moment. But I read it anyway, intrigued, and no well-intentioned adult tried to take it out of my hands, a notion I have only in the last few years realized was radical. I'm not sure what censors are afraid of, but I was at the time quite grounded in religion, and as heretical as what I was reading was, and as thrilling as the aspect of reading the ideas was, 13 years of strong guidance weren't so easily discarded upon the fleeting fancy of an author's fictional conceit. Is it so radical a concept that children will encounter new ideas and sometimes ideas that are more mature or radical than what they may be ready for, whether those ideas are in book form or otherwise? Seems to me the route to go would be to encourage healthy inquiry and, as a parent, be willing to discuss those ideas with the child, not run around trying to eliminate them entirely...

My response to Pullman now? Well, I'm only in the first book of the Dark Materials trilogy, so I'm not yet into the deeper stuff, but I'm enjoying the tale all the same, and I'm definitely not waiting for the lightning this time around. Circumstances, encounters with new ideas, and the intervening years have quelled that original conservativism--some of which came in the form of books, but many from life itself. The Golden Compass is a tale of adventure and growing up--a timeless combination, and I'm enjoying it for that reason.

What about ye gentle reader(s)? What challenged or banned book will you be reading?

Now playing: Bayside - Have Fun Storming the Castle
via FoxyTunes

* - Goodness, but I'm tired. That sentence actually entertained me.


Granny Smith said...

I will reread Maya Angelou's "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings". I am glad that you are reading "The Golden Compass". It is a thought-provoking book. But that's what books are supposed to be, isn't it?

b said...

I keep coming back to the banned book concept. I was raised in small town america where there was no library but the one in our school. I had no idea that there were banned books. In fact, in the state of Oregon I have never seen anything about banned books in public libraries and it seems the school libraries are, for the most part, pretty liberal. I need a list to see if I have read any.


I have started another blog.
More American politics now but all future writing on that blog will be based on reality.

Beth said...

The Corvallis library in Oregon sponsored a 24-hour reading of banned books a few years ago. Not a bad way to remember banned books. In your honor I read the list of banned books, amazed again at what names pop up. So many favorites, so many banned.

Awareness said...

hey there....just checked out a few lists...was intrigued to find out what was on there. My family and I seem to cracked open quite a few of them over the past year....LOVE IT! Go Ask Alice, which was the first one I recall purposefully reading because it was banned (way back in the 70's) found its way into my 14 year old daughter's hands....and my 11 year old read To Kill A Mockingbird and fell in love with reading on his own because of it. Atticus Finch lives on.

As for me? I think Maya Angelou's book is now on my list. I havent read that yet.

thanks for the motivation.

Robin said...

I think people must be very insecure in their own beliefs to honestly fear that a book could lead someone who doesn't wish to be led astray.

Skyelarke said...

I think the whole point of education should be to read about what others think! I mean, how can you truly understand another person if you know nothing about from where they have come, literally and figuratively.

I taught for one long yr at a school that believed in banning certain books and I disagreed, altho it was unpopular to disagree. I don`t believe in living in a bubble.

I am moving this month and therefore leaving my current bookclub, but I know I want to start a new bookclub in my new town and I think we will only read the banned books!!! Now wouldn't that bring about lively debate!!!!

SweetTalkingGuy said...

Don't really know much about banned books or why they are/were banned in the fist place, but surely the very act of banning a book must make it a best seller??

Cool debate.

Stan Ski said...

Without access to things, we remain ignorant.

Patois said...

What a wonderful idea. I shall choose one to read to my 11-year-old son. And maybe one for my 10-year-old daughter.

Rachael Levy said...

Your question sent me searching for lists of banned books, where I discovered that many of the authors I loved as a girl were there, some more than once (Judy Blume, Katherine Paterson). I also thought it hilarious that on the list was Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," banned because some believed it promoted over-eating and obesity! Here's the link:

Jim do little said...

I know this post is old but it's relevant. When a book was/is banned it raises my interest level. Then it promotes discussion as to why it was banned and the usually inane argument for its banning. I love the lists because it provides me fresh fodder to choose from.