Banned Books I’ve Read and Recommend
I just ran across the American Library Association’s 100 Most Frequently Challenged
Books of 1999–2000. A few of them, such as Daddy’s
Roommate (at number two), Madonna’ Sex (number 19) and
Curses, Hexes, and Spells (number 73) make sense. They’re
the kind of books that concerned parents taking an active part in their
children’s lives would ask librarians to remove. However, some
made no sense at all.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (5) — Huh? I don’t see
how a masterpiece of American literature, and icon of abolition, and
clean, moral story can be challenged by any comers. Oh. I get it.
It’s because the characters use the term, “nigger”,
isn’t it? When will people understand that language changes over
time? Even the abolitionists of the day called blacks
“niggers”. It was merely the term in common use.
The Giver (14) — One mother said,
“This book only offers one thing, ideas on the destruction of
humanity.” How can you think that Lowry is advocating a
Big-Brother state? The book is about rebelling against the inhumanity
of the machine!
A Wrinkle in Time
(22) — Let me guess: “occultism”? I don’t know
of any kids who would take religious cues from a science fiction novel
about interdimensional travel. Face it: if you have a world which
allows things like interdimensional travel (or trans-wardrobe travel,
a la Narnia), you’re going to need to change your universe
around somewhat merely to maintain internal consistency. Our real
universe with its one Creator God is just that — real. Surreal
and supernatural stories require surreal and supernatural settings.
Witches (27) — No, I don’t think there is anything
inherently wrong with witchcraft in literature. How is it different
from, say, stealing; since a sin is a sin is a sin, in God’s
book. Would you ban a book (such as those in The Hardy Boys
series) since it dealt with crime? Sin in a book is not wrong.
Glorified sin is wrong. Dahl’s The Witches uses witches as
villains, not heroes.
Blubber (32) — So now we can’t have a book in
which the main character is both overweight and unpopular?
Hmmm . . . I despise political correctness, and when the
political-correctness crowd trys to ban a book for being
“mean”, I get mean. When will they learn that
that’s life? I was always the mocked kid (for being a
geek/nerd/wimp at school. If anyone would have a reason to ban this
book, it would be me. My vote: keep it.
To Kill a
Mockingbird (41) — They seem to like banning my favorite
books, do they not? Or mayhap my taste in reading is just a bit
contra-establishment, eh? Well, the story of a rape trial. Are you
saying that middle schoolers and high schoolers don’t know what
rape is, or that they ought not, in a society gone mad, read at least
one example of someone trying to handle the case the right way? Or is
it bad because a black man is on trial? It always comes back to that,
doesn’t it? Listen, folks: it’s not racism just because the
defendant is black. Racism is when someone is deprecated for their
race. Just like Huck Finn, this is an anti-racism book getting a
bad rap from stupid people: those who
don’t/can’t/won’t thing about the message of a book
rather than their preconceptions about it.
Flowers for Algernon (47) — Now,
what possible controversial topic could be in this book? Insensitivity
to the mentally handicapped? (The book promotes their cause, rather
than deprecating it.) Sex? (The main character develops a crush on his
teacher, which never goes farther than his asking her for a kiss.)
Drugs? (The main character receives a mind-enhancing operation to treat
his retardation.) ?????
A Light in
the Attic (51) — I grew up reading Shel Silverstein. I think
I’d know it if one of his poems were inappropriate. Oh, wait.
You’re talking about that “camel” poem, aren’t
you. I don’t know about you, but in my family there was just an
understanding that that one wasn’t read. Didn’t you grow up
with parents who raised and trained you right? Hmmm. Few and far
Brave New World (52) — Let me say that this
one doesn’t surprise me. Our daddy-state and resident liberals
don’t want any free thinkers around. Yes, it’s not
appropriate for kids. No, I don’t think it would be a problem for
high schoolers. Let the kids read Animal Farm until
they’re old enough for Brave New World and 1984.
Rather surprisingly, they have not yet tried to ban Animal
James and the Giant Peach (56) — I
suppose giant bugs and a giant piece of fruit are supernatural enough
to entail drastic action. I can see that. Dahl’s Peach is
going to make kids everywhere go out into their back yards and cast
spells on their fruit trees until the fruit becomes big enough to
travel in, right? Wrong.
Lord of the Flies (70) — A lot of books from my
“must-read” list I give people are showing up on the banned
The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch
exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist. Piggy,
saying nothing, with no time for even a grunt, travelled through the
air sideways from the rock, turning over as he went. The rock bounded
twice and was lost in the forest. Piggy fell forty feet and landed on
his back across that square, red rock in the sea. His head opened and
stuff came out and turned red. Piggy’s arms and legs twitched a
bit, like a pig’s after it has been killed. Then the sea breathed
again in a long slow sigh, the water boiled white and pink over the
rock; and when it went, sucking back again, the body of Piggy was gone.
1 2 3 4
Look how well-written that is! Golding captures the essence of his
childhood point of view required by the story in that passage.
Matter-of-fact, like a jaded, frightened child. It’s not
“nice”, though, is it. Face it: a sin nature is not a nice
thing. I halfway think they want to ban LOTF
acknowledges the innate evil of mankind. Not very enlightened of
Golding, is it?
Adventures of Tom Sawyer (84) — I think I already dealt with
this under Huck Finn. Learn this, people: “nigger”
was not a racist term in the mid-1800s. Everyone from abolitionists to
slaves to slavers used it. It’s called “period
How to Eat Fried Worms (96) — Look,
moms. No matter what disgusts you, you can’t ban a book because
it’s “icky”. Trust me. There is no
questionable content in here. Not even the fleeting use of mild
cursing. Nought. Nada. Zilch. Fried Worms is a
one-hundred-percent clean book with a one-hundred-percent appeal to
boys. No, mom, you probably won’t like it. That doesn’t
mean it’s evil.
Looking back at that list, I’m rather surprised at how many of
the books on the list are classics. Some I have never read are on that
list, and it’s making me want to read them even more.
Fahrenheit 451, anybody? Let’s have us a book un-burning!
Read a banned book. Better yet, tell someone else about your favourite