28 September 2009

If you ban it, they will come

It's Banned Books Week again in the USA starting September 26 and ending October 3 (I'm a little late on my opening post, sorry). I'm not going to discuss the semantics of the word "banned" and whether or not we actually "ban" books or "challenge" books...it's the spirit of the thing. Some of my favorite books are ones frequently challenged in schools and libraries. I was allowed to read very liberally as a child; my parents always knew what I was reading, occasionally directing me toward or away from a book as they saw fit, and encouraged me to ask questions if I didn't understand something I read.

And you know what? I'm not a crazy ax-murderer, I don't worship the devil, and I'm not an unwed teenage crack-addict mom. I read a lot of books with extreme themes and I'm still well-adjusted. On the other hand, I did know kids with parents who tightly controlled their reading and, while those kids turned out OK, too, you could tell that sometimes they wanted to join in on the class discussion of Brave New World rather than read yet another Shakespeare play to pass British Lit. To my knowledge, we never had successful challenges to books in my school district but I will say that the administrators and teachers were also very willing to work with parents if there were curriculum concerns (maybe everyone in my district is special, who knows).

The ALA has posted the 100 most frequently challenged books from 1990-1999 and I thought it would be interesting to see how many of these titles I read; a number of YA titles were published after I finished high school and since I read above my reading level, particularly after middle school, I probably haven't read as many recent YA novels on this list (books I've read are in bold).

1.Scary Stories (Series), by Alvin Schwartz
2.Daddy’s Roommate, by Michael Willhoite
3.I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
4.The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
5.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
6.Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
7.Forever, by Judy Blume
8.Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
9.Heather Has Two Mommies, by Leslea Newman
10.The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
11.The Giver, by Lois Lowry
12.My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

13.It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
14.Alice (Series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
15.Goosebumps (Series), by R.L. Stine
16.A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
17.The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18.Sex, by Madonna
19.Earth’s Children (Series), by Jean M. Auel
20.The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson

21.In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
22.The Witches, by Roald Dahl
23.A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
24.The New Joy of Gay Sex, by Charles Silverstein
25.Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
26.The Goats, by Brock Cole
27.The Stupids (Series), by Harry Allard
28.Anastasia Krupnik (Series), by Lois Lowry
29.Final Exit, by Derek Humphry
30.Blubber, by Judy Blume
31.Halloween ABC, by Eve Merriam
32.Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
33.Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
34.The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
35.What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters, by Lynda Madaras
36.Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
37.The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
38.The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
39.The Pigman, by Paul Zindel
40.To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
41.We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
42.Deenie, by Judy Blume
43.Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
44.Annie on my Mind, by Nancy Garden
45.Beloved, by Toni Morrison
46.The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
47.Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat, by Alvin Schwartz
48.Harry Potter (Series), by J.K. Rowling
49.Cujo, by Stephen King
50.James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl
51.A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein

52.Ordinary People, by Judith Guest
53.American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis
54.Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
55.Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
56.Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
57.Asking About Sex and Growing Up, by Joanna Cole
58.What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons, by Lynda Madaras
59.The Anarchist Cookbook, by William Powell
60.Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
61.Boys and Sex, by Wardell Pomeroy
62.Crazy Lady, by Jane Conly
63.Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
64.Killing Mr. Griffin, by Lois Duncan
65.Fade, by Robert Cormier
66.Guess What?, by Mem Fox
67.Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
68.Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
69.Native Son by Richard Wright

70.Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies, by Nancy Friday
71.Curses, Hexes and Spells, by Daniel Cohen
72.On My Honor, by Marion Dane Bauer
73.The House of Spirits, by Isabel Allende
74.Jack, by A.M. Homes
75.Arizona Kid, by Ron Koertge
76.Family Secrets, by Norma Klein
77.Mommy Laid An Egg, by Babette Cole
78.Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo A. Anaya
79.Where Did I Come From?, by Peter Mayle
80.The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline Cooney
81.Carrie, by Stephen King
82.The Dead Zone, by Stephen King
83.The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
84.Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
85.Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
86.Private Parts, by Howard Stern
87.Where’s Waldo?, by Martin Hanford
88.Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Greene
89.Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
90.Little Black Sambo, by Helen Bannerman
91.Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
92.Running Loose, by Chris Crutcher
93.Sex Education, by Jenny Davis
94.Jumper, by Steven Gould
95.Christine, by Stephen King
96.The Drowning of Stephen Jones, by Bette Greene
97.That Was Then, This is Now, by S.E. Hinton
98.Girls and Sex, by Wardell Pomeroy
99.The Wish Giver, by Bill Brittain
100.Jump Ship to Freedom, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

I've read about half of those. Not bad. I need to figure out why A Light in the Attic is on the challenge list - that one really strikes me as odd.

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