Happy Sunday, everyone! I am here to announce the arrival of Banned Books Week, a marvelous time of year when we revel in our freedom to read.
It may surprise you to learn how many banned or challenged books you’ve already read. Take the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series, The Kite Runner, Fifty Shades of Grey, and John Green’s Looking for Alaska, for starters. Not to mention classics such as The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Grapes of Wrath, and virtually anything by Vonnegut. One of my favorite authors, Sherman Alexie, holds a permanent place on the ALA’s list of Frequently Challenged Books with The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Particularly with young adult literature, it’s difficult to find a title that someone has not found fault with at one time or another.
In honor of this momentous occasion, here are some of the silliest reasons for book banning I discovered whilst preparing for the week:
- Arabian Nights, or One Thousand and One Nights: “It caused a wave of rapes.”
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Bill Martin: Author had the misfortune of sharing his name with a professor who wrote a book on Marxism. Basically, they banned the wrong book. (Not that banning the other book would have been any better, but come on.)
- Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown: Too controversial. According to a Wisconsin school official in the 70s, “If there’s a possibility something might be controversial, then why not eliminate it?”
- The Diary of Anne Frank: Banned for being too depressing.
- Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh: Teaches children to spy.
- The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Banned for being pornographic and obscene. (By the way, the book contains exactly zero sex scenes.)
- Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends: The former “encourages children to break dishes so they won’t have to dry them” while the latter promotes cannibalism.
In closing, we encourage you to celebrate your First Amendment rights by checking out a banned or challenged book. If you need suggestions, be sure to ask a staff member or check out our Banned Book displays. I’ll be reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale; how about you?