Musings on children's and YA literature, the academy, and the relationship between them, from an English professor and mother.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books Week again. Feels like it was just--well, last year, in fact. In honor of Banned Books Week our library hosts a read-out; last year I read In the Night Kitchen (nudity). This year I think I may read the Easter passage from Bridge to Terabithia (religious content, language). I am always astonished at the children's books that make the list, but it does stand to reason: we think children are more susceptible to influence, and thus more in need of protection, than adults. If you want to find the rationales for banning, you can--look for, for example, Parents Against Bad Books. (I'm not linking, because they don't really need the publicity.) They helpfully excerpt lots of the dirty bits from books they don't want your kids to read. Um, perhaps counter-productive? (But pretty amusing, nonetheless.)

I don't think I'm currently teaching or reading aloud anything off these lists, but they certainly appear on my syllabi.

It's always useful to remember, too, that books are challenged for a variety of reasons. I may feel that the challenges to BtoT and In the Night Kitchen are absurd, but the challenges to Huck Finn, Little Black Sambo, and Little House on the Prairie come from the "left." I don't agree with any of them--I've read Sambo, for example, and I would share it with a child, though not without some discussion. Some people don't agree: they don't want to have the Little House books on library shelves, as the attitudes towards Indians in them are certainly offensive and potentially damaging. I don't know how to answer that, except to say that the problem isn't in the book but in the attitude, and we can't change attitudes without studying them. That sounds a bit lame as I type it, but it will have to do--I have to go read a non-controversial book to my son now. Good night.

No comments:

Post a Comment