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"Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads." -- George Bernard Shaw

So, I've been loosely preparing for banned book week this year: September 22-28, 2013. I disagree with banning books. I feel that people should be free to chose their own literature, read it, and make their own decisions about it. It assumes the reader can neither think critically, nor judge morality and ethics on their own. When people ban books, what they're really banning is critical thinking, and independence.  

Anyway, this year I plan on having students pick out a banned book and read it during banned book week. We will do the selection the prior week, and we will take "mug shots" of us with our banned books. I claim Harry Potter! These will be posted around the classroom and school building! Then after the students have finished reading them, we will research the reasons why the books were banned, and the students will write a persuasive essay outlining whether or not the books should be banned! I'm excited! 

My classroom library is going to be set up with police tape and "Do Not Read" signs, and maybe even a fake book burning thing. 

So far, here is a short list of some elementary titles that have been banned and why according to Amazon:

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen is a junior high-level book. Reasons for banning it have been descriptions of injuries and trauma that were apparently too well written.

Harry Potter Hardcover Boxed Set: Books #1-7 by J. K. Rowling have been banned widely for themes of witchcraft, supposedly tied to Satanism despite that only Christian holidays are celebrated or even mentioned in the books, and sometimes for the themes of challenging authority. One censor complained that it "made magic and witchcraft alluring" to children. 

The Lorax (Classic Seuss) by Dr. Seuss, banned in some U.S. areas for, and I quote, "being an allegorical political commentary". Yes, that's an (pretty basic) analysis; what's wrong with that!

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank for being too depressing for students; sheesh, she shouldn't have let her imagination run away with her on the details, eh, stuck more to real life.

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh for the apparent poor influence it will have on children which is anti-authoritative; it just won't do for the little minions to think outside the box.

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein, apparently for a single poem and accompanying illustration which suggests that children could avoid washing dishes by breaking them.

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (Stories to Go!) by William Steig, for a quite ridiculous reason, possibly the most ridiculous of all these: the depiction of the characters as animals, particularly the police as pigs, apparently upset people. 

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition is one of my favorite cases, although not exactly a kids book; it was banned in some libraries for containing "39 objectionable words" such as slang terms "bed" "knocker" and "balls". I wonder what Orwell would think of banning the Dictionary, but he's banned, too, so no one will wonder.

Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings by Shel Silverstein has been banned because the poem "Ladies First" apparently supports cannibalism; I would have never even thought of this, considering that the cannibalistic king is portrayed as evil in that he will be eating the narrator.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis, which I suspect is most frequently banned because of the term "witch" in the title by overzealous Christians; not that the banning would be okay otherwise, but Lewis was a deeply devoted Christian scholar, so calling his works unchristian is kind of ridiculous (of course though!).

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, one of the best books I read in my childhood, has been banned for grief, swear words, and suggestions of witchcraft.

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks was challenged for containing mild curse words and suggestions of racial stereotypes.

The Five Chinese Brothers (Paperstar) by Claire Hutchet Bishop was banned from an elementary school (it is a classic picture book) because it is deemed too violent.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, one of my favorite books of all time, has been challenged for containing mild profanity and depicting positive anti-authority behavior and cruel aunts.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, which some apparently considered sexist.

The Little House Collection Box Set (Full Color) by Laura Ingalls Wilder has been challenged for its negative treatment of Native Americans.

The First Captain Underpants Collection (Books 1-4) by Dav Pilkey have been challenged for the diaper and poo themed superheroes. They are tremendously fun books. It may just be the revenge of teachers who told Pilkey as a student that he would never be a good artist or author.
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For more of these books, and to view the descriptions for yourself head on over to: http://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/syltguides/fullview/

 


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