"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, September 26, 2011

2011 Banned Books Week- Day 3- Mindless Banning

I did four book talks today, three of them focused on banned or censored books as part of my Banned Books Weeks celebrations in the library. High school students get all fired up when they think about someone else taking away their right to read a particular book. It was a gratifying, challenging, and fun day. Throughout the day, as the students and I talked about cases of recent book bannings, it became increasingly clear that most book-banners have NOT read the whole book they want to ban.

Case in point, last year Laurie Halse Anderson's award-winning book SPEAK was challenged by a college professor who called the book "soft porn." When I told students about that today, one boy said he read the book last year and he didn't even know what was happening in the rape scene because it was such a mild description, certainly not soft porn. Did the college professor even read the book, or did he just read a few passages out of context? Read Anderson's response to that challenge here in the September 23, 2010 issue of National , a web magazine.

Among the books I introduced today was Sherman Alexie's fabulous book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. I get all agitated when I think about how often this book is challenged/banned. It is one of the best YA books ever written. After my presentation all five copies of the book were checked out immediately.

Last year the Richland, Washington School Board decided to remove The Absolutely True Diary from all grades not just their 9th grade reading list by a 3-2 vote.Two months later, after receiving a joint letter from several anti-censorship organizations (See Kids Rights to Read Project), the same board reversed their vote because one of the members, Donahoe, read the book in the meantime and found the book "outstanding."
The book is based on Alexie's own upbringing on the Spokane reservation and his attending school in nearby Reardan, a predominantly white farming town. The book's 14-year-old protagonist struggles with poverty, racism and death.'Those themes, and particularly the main character's perseverance in the face of these challenges, bear important lessons for students,' Donahoe said. 'When I'm voting a book out of the classroom, I'm denying parents the right to choose to have that book read by their students,' he said.   -NewsTribune
I'm glad that Donahoe reversed his vote to ban this book, but why did he vote NO in the first place? I'm afraid that that happens more often than not. Individuals in a position to vote for/against book banning base their votes on feedback from others without reading the book themselves.

Think for yourself and let others do the same!


  1. Hear, hear! One of the best lessons we can teach our kids to learn how to read and think critically. I'm still miffed about "Speak" seen as soft porn. How stupid can you really be?

  2. I'm glad he actually went back and read the book, then reversed his decision. But why didn't they read the book first BEFORE making the decision?

    So frustrating!

  3. When The Golden Compass movie was coming out a few years back, I can't tell you how many emails I received from friends and family members telling me to boycott the movie because the story is about killing "God." Fortunately, I had recently read the book and sent a reply to my sister asking her not to be a sheeple (sheep + people). I told her that unless she had read the book, she had no right to tell someone else (except maybe her kids and even then I'm leery because she hadn't read the book) to not read it. It made me so angry!

    There's another side to that as well, though. If she had read the book and decided that it was indeed about killing "God," then she can definitely share her opinions of the book, but I still don't feel like she has the right to prevent someone else from reading it. People need to make their own decisions and decide what's best for them.

    Sheeple really bother me.

  4. Love this post! I don't think anyone has the right to tell someone else not to read something. You really shouldn't do it if you hadn't read it yourself!


  5. Absolutely loved Absolutely True Story... Glad to hear it was reinstated at that one school, but such a shame it is banned at all.



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