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