"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=========

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Banned Book Week...Day 3

I know it sounds like I am whining. OK, I am whining, but I am so busy at work right now that I have barely had time to enjoy Banned Books Week so far. Tomorrow, however, I am doing book talks all day and I plan to promote a lot of good books that have been challenged or banned. Until then, and in keeping with my promise to blog about banned books all week, I decided to share with you portions of an Op-Ed piece by Anna Quindlen written in 1994 and published in the NY Times. Sometimes a little satire and humor says it best.
Monday: Begin Banned Books Week by reading "Bridge to Terebithia" by Katherine Paterson, which parents in several school districts have tried to remove from required reading lists. Weep copiously at realistic tale of friendship and loss among children.
Read account of attempts to have the book removed from school libraries in Mechanicsburg, Pa. Clergyman says the book refers to church services as "boring." Shocked and amazed.
Discover that "Terebithia" caused such a stink in Oskaloosa, Kan., that the school board has required teachers to list each profanity in any book they assign and how many times the profanity is used. Page through book. Find a "damn" and write it down. Feel like a fool. "I hate to say it, but sometimes grown-ups are really stupid," says oldest child.
This reminds me of the time my daughter invited a young girl over to our house for a sleep-over. The girls decided to watch a movie but the young friend told my daughter she couldn't watch Disney's Pocahontas because of some impure scene. Then the girl went on to describe said scene in great detail. My daughter and I sat with our mouths gaping open. We had watched the movie many times and never noticed any inappropriate scenes, yet here was a girl telling us all about it and she supposedly hadn't seen it. All I could think was what a disservice the adults in this child's life had done to her...by telling her to avoid it they had created an almost insatiable curiosity and obsession within this young girl. My daughter, who had no such ban, came across as the innocent child in the room.

Back to Anna Quindlen:

Tuesday: Read reams of material about the banning of "In the Night Kitchen," fanciful account of dreams of little boy by Maurice Sendak. Boy falls out of clothes, is naked, has penis. Penis has been described as "desensitizing children to nudity" (Beloit, Wis.), "nudity for no purpose" (Norridge, Ill.) and "the foundation for future use of pornography" (Elk River, Minn.). In Missouri copies of book were distributed to kindergarten class after artist was commissioned to draw shorts on boy.
Discover that the profanity in "Terebithia" includes the repeated use of the word "Lord." Begin to agree with oldest child. 
Honestly. Don't parents see how ridiculous it is to draw shorts on the boy in the Sendak story? My hometown did something just as ridiculous.  A sculpture was installed outside the public library of three naked angels. After many complaints the artist returned and put cloth underwear of the stone sculpture.  That didn't look stupid at all, nor did it attract more attention to ludicrousness of the complaints. Ha!

Back to the Op-Ed piece...(Can't you relate to it?)

Wednesday: Contemplate bookshelves in office. "Moby Dick" encourages whale hunting, "Anna Karenina" adultery, Shakespeare teen suicide, usury and the occult. Faulkner, oy. Consider what would remain if all books containing sex, profanity, racial slurs, violence were removed from shelves. Narrow it down to "Cat in the Hat," dictionary and Bible.
Realize cat with hat encourages children to make a mess while mother is out. Discover in American Library Association Banned Books Week literature that the Bible was challenged as "obscene and pornographic" at library in Fairbanks, Alaska. Fear for future of human race.

The Bible. Where's Waldo. Winnie-the-Pooh. The Diary of Anne Frank. All of them banned or challenged and all for ridiculous reasons. It would be funny if it weren't so pathetic.

Read the rest of the excellent piece by Ms. Quindlen here.

I'm off to read The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss which, you guessed it, is another banned book!

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