What are you hiding under your pillow this week?

This week (September 26th-Oct 3rd) marks  the 28th annual celebration of Banned Books Week.

bannedbooks_readout.lg_horizInterested in knowing what books have been challenged this year? Check out Robert P. Doyle’s Books Challenged & Banned in 2008-2009: Speak Read Know. Doyle compiled the list based on reports from the Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, and you might be surprised at what some parents and schools are willing to consider unfit for adolescent eyes.

Among the list are classics, like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird. Other titles are new to me, but surprising just the same. Take Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, a book about a young boy who leaves his Indian reservation to attend an all-white school. A host of awards supports the book as credible and critical for young adults (2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the National Parenting Publication Gold Winner 2007 to name just two), but the book was challenged because it mentions masturbation.

Okay, fine. But I’m curious if those same parents who challenged many of the award winning books on Doyle’s list are the same parents who dropped their 12 or 13 year old off at the cinema to watch Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (PG-13 for sexual material) or rented Step Up 2 for their 14 year old’s slumber party (PG-13 for “suggestive material” and really skimpy outfits)?

Then, there are the books I wish I’d read when I was young, like Esther Drill’s Deal With It!: A Whole New Approach
to Your Body, Brain, and Life as a gURL
This book reveals everything every girl wants to know, and needs to know, about her body’s evolution into womanhood. At sixteen years old, my high school friend innocently misinformed me (and embarrassed me) about the natural workings of my own body. She had no idea what she was talking about. I doubted her information, but I felt too ashamed to ask anyone else, until I was well into my thirties.  Esther Drill’s book was challenged at a Community Library close to my home. The book was thought to be “worse than an R-rated movie,” as if educating young girls about their own biology is obscene.

I don’t want my daughter to grow up in the dark.

Read the list. Find out what books have been challenged in your area, and why. If the library won’t let you borrow it, then buy it. The book they ban is most likely the best book on the shelf.


7 responses to “What are you hiding under your pillow this week?

  1. “I don’t want my daughter to grow up in the dark.”
    Ditto. I couldn’t help but notice some books were challenged because of how they address race.

    • I noticed the same. And – like your recent post suggests – we should be taking more opportunities to discuss those issues with our children, rather than ban a book and run from discomfort.

  2. I’m so glad you posted this. I celebrate banned books week-it reminds me of books I keep pushing aside for one reason or another. It is amazing at what gets challenged and why.

    Deal With It-I will purchase this for my daughters because I don’t have all the answers nor will they always want to ask me. And Sherman Alexie, another I’ve been putting off. Thank you!

  3. Oh, thank you for this post! Where I used to live, banned books was “celebrated” (publicized) in bookstores and libraries everywhere. Not so where I live now. You wouldn’t even know there was a week designed for this.

    Good point on the whole “and just what do these uptight parents think their kids are watching at the movies” thing. Yeesh.

    And the girl’s book sounds interesting. Love what you say about the idea of educating a girl about her body being “obscene”. There’s a whole nother post in that comment – maybe even a book. (but bet it would be banned!) I think you are really on to something here with that.

    • It’s amazing how a woman’s own body image is so strongly shaped by outside influences, and how – often – those influences are misinterpreted as appropriate or not.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

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