It’s Banned Books Week!
Before you think I’ve completely lost my mind to even mention, much less celebrate, such an occasion, I must ask: What do you know about banned books? Can you name half a dozen books on the list of books most challenged? Or the reasons behind the censorship requests?
Have you investigated the claims for yourself?
You might be surprised at what you learned. Let’s take a deeper look.
My Thoughts on Banned Books
You’re bound to get idears if you go thinkin’ about stuff. ~John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
Well, first I should start by saying that the full list of banned and challenged books numbers in the thousands. Historically, people challenge or ban books for sexual content, violence, or obscenities.
But what is obscene? Or offensive? Even the Supreme Court of the United States has difficulty with terms like these, so applying them to art is never easy. Amy Brady reports that shortly after the Civil War, a “government official named Anthony Comstock convinced the United States Congress to pass a law prohibiting the mailing of ‘pornographic’ materials. His definition” included “anatomy textbooks, doctors’ pamphlets about reproduction, anything by Oscar Wilde, and even The Canterbury Tales.”
Within my home.
I lean heavily away from censorship, at least to the greater public. When my kids were young, I aimed to read every book they did before them. I maintained this into my daughter’s early teen years where I could no longer keep up. Yet, I still worked to keep an eye on what she read.
If I didn’t like a topic/book for any reason, we’d talk about my hesitations and concerns. The child in question could defend why they wanted to read the book. Occasionally, the case was good enough that they were allowed to read despite my concerns, but when they were finished with it, we’d revisit the topic.
In my own reading life, I’m selective. I know my preferences and sensitivities and generally stick within those boundaries. While I don’t agree that every book currently available is good, I trust you to talk with God and decide for yourself if it is appropriate.
Challenged and Banned Books
Now we’re ready for the list. Well, remember the official includes thousands of books, so I won’t try to list them all. But, here are some that have been challenged or banned within the United States over the last fifty years.
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
- The Call of the Wild by Jack London
- The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
- The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
- James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
- Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
- The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
- The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for. ~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Hopefully, all of you have read at least one book on the list: The Bible. Yep, even within the United States, some well-meaning parents (or persnickety people) file complaints about the Bible.
Of the other twenty books listed above, I’ve read almost half of them. What about you? Let me know by joining the discussion on Facebook! This post will be pinned to the top of my Author Page until Sunday, September 29th.