Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Do You Read Banned Books?


As a writer, I get apprehensive when we submit something, hoping the editor will be in the right frame of mind and like it. Hoping the publishing house will have a spot for it. Then, if published, will the readers and critics alike, enjoy it. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have my book challenged or banned from shelves because someone didn’t like the content.

Last week, I helped out at my daughter’s elementary school book fair. While we were between classes the secretary came over and said… “I don’t know what you want to do but I just received a call from a parent asking that you take down a certain book because it promotes atheism.”

I was flabbergasted. I thought the day of book banning had ended. We decided not to remove the books. It is a public school and you can’t discriminate because of religion. Besides the fact, we were all proponents of the constitution and the right to free speech.

I am all for and, in fact, believe parents should censor what their children see on TV, the computer, video games, and yes… what they read. Making sure it is age or maturity appropriate. I watch shows with my kids, read the books they read, even play their video games and listen to their music. I want to know where questions and ideas are formed. It’s a way to have open dialogue and find ways to relate to them.

But never would I dream of thinking something should be censored from society as a whole. If you don’t want your child reading something then you tell them no. That is fine, I respect your decision. But don’t tell me or anyone else what we should be allowed to read. By censoring you are just as guilty of forcing your beliefs on others as you accused the author.

I looked online and found some interesting titles that were at one time banned or challenged… some even today are removed from required reading in schools…
Ulysses- James Joyce
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain
Madam Bovary- Gustave Flaubert
The Scarlet Letter- Nathaniel Hawthorne
Uncle Tom’s Cabin- Harriet Beecher Stowe
Of Mice and Men-John Steinbeck
Brave New World- Aldous Huxley
Lady Chatterly’s Lover- DH Lawrence
Moll Flanders- Daniel Defoe
Candide-Voltaire
Some of Shakespeare's plays- Hamlet, Midsummer’s Night Dream, Othello…
Alice in Wonderland
Captain Underpants
Black Beauty
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Color Purple
A Wrinkle in Time
*blink* I didn’t realize it was such a long list and there are still a lot more! My mouth is hanging open reading the lists!

I haven’t read the book in question yet, but now I am curious and will LOL. I know that the written word can have power. But thinking a work of fiction, if read, can destroy your family's belief system, especially if you discuss it with your child… *blink*

Besides, what an adult or child gather from something can be totally different. ie how a child sees Pepe Lepew… compared to how adults take his humor… there are different perceptions.

I have read banned books, have you?
Mari

5 Comments:

Blogger FeyRhi said...

Hear Hear!! Beautifully written and I couldn't agree more.

I'm flabbergasted that A Wrinkle in Time was once banned, it's been years since I read it and I can't think of why it would have been. I'll have to read it again once my daughter is finished.

Wouldn't it be cool that a book you wrote caused such a passionate response in people that they wanted it banned?

3/04/2008 9:24 PM  
Blogger Marissa Alwin said...

well according to Scholastic.com

A Wrinkle inTime has been banned by various religious groups that feel thebook undermines religious beliefs. Some critics claim that thebook challenges their idea of God. (If you remember, L’Engle uses
some biblical references in the novel.) Some people think it’s too
Christian, while others think it is not Christian enough.

Although Madeleine L’Engle was a Christian, she didn't feel that
any of her books have specific Christian messages. She didn't
want to limit her books to Christian readers. If her books have any message, L’Engle said, it’s that “the universe is basically benign [harmless].”

I would love to have my characters move people, have them draw you into their story.

LOL Looking at some of the reasons some groups want certain books banned, it might not have to be that thought provoking *blink*

3/04/2008 10:12 PM  
Blogger Amy Ruttan said...

I've read most of those books on the banned list.

I totally agree with you. See when I was in school I read Brave New World, I love it.

Book banning is just as bad as the book burnings in the olden days. It's about control and I thought we had the right to freedom of speech, freedom to think. To ban books is just trying to control what we think what we feel.

I'm sorry but those books on the banned list should not be banned.

Are we going to ban the bible, lots of violence and sex in that book.

This kind of stuff makes me MAD!!

3/05/2008 8:57 AM  
Blogger Shelley Munro said...

We don't have banned books in NZ. It seems to be an American thing...

3/06/2008 1:53 PM  
Blogger Marissa Alwin said...

Oh wait, let me clarify, the list isnt just books that have been challenged in the Americas but world wide. Many were in communist countries or contries whose governements are controlled by religions. some are govermentally bannned, others by various political and or religious groups that urge people not to buy them.

In 1960 New Zealand did ban Voltaire. Recently there were pubishers banning the reference to Fish and Chips in children's books saying they needed to promote healthy eating. *blink*
http://www.aussieindolanka.com/news_main.asp?newsid=48226

This year New Zealand Libraries participated in a read banned books week. Feb 25-29 that invited patrons to read books that had once been banned, like those on our lists. US celebrates read banned books week in September.

3/07/2008 2:54 PM  

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