Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Banned Books Week

It is timely that Banned Books Week is here because in a school district near where I live there have been protests and walkouts today and over the past week due to a school board proposal to change the way History is taught in schools. Supposedly they want to make it friendlier and less about rabble rousing, in their words  focus on " positive aspects of the United States and its heritage and avoiding material that would encourage or condone "civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law."" Thankfully the parents and students are not having that and are letting the whole world know it too.

Many books have been challenged over the years and this list provided by the American Library Association has the most challenged classic books. I read this list and could not believe some of the books that were on there. I mean To Kill a Mockingbird...come on.  As for recent publications that have made many school board member foam at the mouth this list shows the top ten frequently challenged books by year. I must say though that I am not surprised that Captain Underpants is there, I looked at one of them years ago and could not believe how plain silly it was. Even the words were silly, I think the boys took pride in spelling words incorrectly. However, as much as I don't like the book personally a book like that is gold for a school teacher or a librarian or literacy coach who is searching for any way to get students to pick up a book. Sure Captain Underpants probably wouldn't give other civilizations the best idea of us if somehow the book were to wind up in another galaxy but you know what, it gets kids reading. They learn about plot, suspense, irony, sarcasm etc.  I don't like the book but far be it from me to prevent the neighbor's child from reading it at school.

As I look at the main reason why books are band the words "sexually explicit" come to mind. These parents must want to cocoon their children- I can understand if you want to keep your 6 year old from looking at the latest Nikki Minaj video but an older child probably has friends who have phones and has probably seen that (and worse) online.  As for "offensive language" again, unless your kids are home schooled I think they have probably heard a cuss word or two or three in school. I remember learning about the birds and the bees in school...and that was way back when before technology exploded as it has.  At work I see kids elementary school kids playing computer games after school where people are shot and killed. Even uber popular Minecraft has some not too savory aspects at times.

I have always thought that those who want to ban books want to prevent their kids from thinking. Those parents are so set in their worldview that they don't want anything to spoil it. I am sorry to say but it is a cold, hard world out there and technology being what it is has made so many things accessible to our children. So go ahead, read a banned book (or two or three) and go out there and rouse some rabble :)

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