Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Banned Books

It's banned book week so the topic for Top 5 Wednesday for the Goodreads group is perfect. 
Today I'm going to talk about banned books. 

(This picture is of the display created by Rachel Moani in the Lacey Timberland Library)

When you look at a list of the books that have been banned and challenged throughout the years there will always be those that pop out at you as understandable. There are always a few that you think, "Yeah, I might not want my kid reading that."
However,  I don't think that is solved by censorship of the books. 
In some of them I might not like the story or content in general, some I might think is just not appropriate for their age yet. 
But as I help them to understand why something should or should not be read by them they will learn to make decisions that are best for them, not have someone else make those decisions for them.  
As parents, we are here to guide our children not push them.

“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.” – Voltaire

I read a great article about this just the other day written by Melissa at Imagination Soup called "Self Censorship Better than Book Banning". Check it out here.

I have been reading through lists of banned books over the last few days and pulled out a bunch of my books that are on the list. 
I am sure I missed some of them because there are so many different lists of banned and challenged books but here are just some of them: 

I decided to pick my 5 from the ones I actually own, not just the ones that I have read. 

#1: The Diary of A Young Girl, Anne Frank

This diary was banned because it was "too depressing". 
I think this is an important book because we see a real life. She isn't just a number in the people that were killed in concentration camps. We get to know her. It forces us to stop and think about all of the millions killed and remember that each one of them had a name, a face, and a story. 

#2: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

 Banned for its depiction of the end of slavery and blatant racism. 
In fact, just this year with the controversy surrounding the confederate flag, there have been many people trying to get it banned again. 
While, these accusations are partly correct- there is a lot of racism in this book, it doesn't portray everything completely historically accurate (it is fiction!)- I still think it was a very interesting book. 
It shows us all a side of the war/ end of slavery that we don't often look at or think about. I think it is always important to look at both sides of every story so we learn empathy and understanding of others. If we know why people react and act the way they do, we can help them to move forward. 
When questioned about inaccuracies in the book at a time when it was being challenged, Margaret Mitchell said she had spent " ten years reading thousands of books, documents, letters, diaries, old newspapers, and interviewing people who had lived through those terrible times" in preparation for writing the first draft.  

#3: Harry Potter by J.K Rowling

 (All of the books)
The Harry Potter books have been challenged and banned all over the world many times. 
The most cited reason is for its glorification of magic. 
When they burned it in New Mexico they said it was because it encouraged "lying, cheating, stealing, and witchcraft".
You can't google Harry Potter without having many hits for websites calling for the banning of these books. 
It makes me so sad. 
There is so much good to learn from these books: how to be a good friend, how to stand up for yourself and what you think is right even when it is toward your friends (I'm looking at you Neville), sacrifice, hope, love, loyalty, kindness, etc. I could go on and on. 

#4: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Banned for violence, for an absence of religion, for being anti- family (huh? She freaking volunteered to save her sister!), and for promoting rebellion. 
Yeah, it does promote rebellion. And that is a good thing. 
I am sure these people think that their children might start rising up against them with a three finger salute, whistling, when they are told to do their homework but to be honest if my kids did that I would laugh and then make them do their homework. 
There is a lot of violence and I can totally understand not wanting younger children to read that. 
I probably wouldn't encourage my daughters to read this until they are at least 12. But it is still a good story that shows self sacrifice and the consequences of war. 

#5: The Lord of the Rings by  J.R.R. Tolkien

These books have been banned in schools and libraries all over the country. 
Some of the reasons are: characters smoking, that it is anti-religion and Christianity (do they not know Tolkien was a devout Christian?), and that they are satanic and promote witchcraft. 
I love these books and think that if any of these people actually read the books they would realize that they are so wrong. 
Again, just like Harry Potter, the themes are of self sacrifice, loyalty, and friendship. 

I want to mention two honorable mentions. These books might have made my top 5 list but I don't currently own them. They are: 

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

1984 by George Orwell

To Kill a Mockingbird was banned because it was "filthy", "vulgur", and "racist". 
1984 was banned because it was "pro communist" and "explicit". 

As you read this and looked at my pile of books above, I hope it gave you something to think about. 
I think that most of these bannings and challenges come about by two things: ignorance and lack of communication. If you communicate with your children and teach them to self-discern they will learn to choose for themselves. And if they read something that they find disturbing or confusing, it gives you a great place to jump in with a conversation. 
So, go read some Banned and Challenged books and let me know in the comments which books you love that have been banned!


Donna said...

Totally ridiculous that those books were banned! And all for dumb reasons, in my opinion. I've learned so much from those books, and none of them have been to the detriment of my spirit or anything. I don't agree with banning books.

cheryl said...


The Kings said...

Great post! I love the books you mentioned and was surprised to see that some like "Gone With The Wind" (my favorite book) were on the list. I agree with you and Donna that none of the books pictured should have been banned including the Bible!

cheryl said...

Crazy right?