Tag Archive: Banned books


I Read Banned Books

Last week was banned books week.

Maybe you are familiar with it, maybe you’re not. It is this week that we celebrate the freedom to read – even if it is something you or someone else would not read. I prefer not to read horror but I am not going to stop someone else from reading it.

As people try to ban or challenge books, it becomes imperative that we continue to fight for this right. At the beginning of September there was a story about a principle in a Catholic school who wanted to ban the Harry Potter books because he said the spells in the books are real. I think there might be many children and adults who would disagree because they have tried with no results.

But this story emphasizes why it is important to fight for the freedom to read. We won’t agree on everything but by reading the book in question, we can discuss the issues brought up by these books. We can discuss the rights and wrongs of bringing it up and explore those issues.

I read banned booksI work in a library and so we take it seriously, including getting tee-shirts. I love mine which is a v-neck football style. I can no longer find it on Cafe Press but they do have similar tees. I tend to wear it once a week, before and after banned book week.

So I was wearing it this past week and after work I stopped at the grocery store. The thing is, people kept looking at me and smiling. I don’t know any of these people. I was beginning to think everyone was happy that it was Thursday and only one more day in the work left to go.

Then I hit the check out line and the cashier mentioned my shirt. He was smiling, too. We talked about banned books while he rang up my order. Once I got to my car it hit me that the people smiling at me loved my shirt. I forgot about what I was wearing. But for them it must have been a clarion call. A signal that it is ok to reject complacency or lemming behavior.

I was telling people, through my shirt, it is okay to read whatever you want. I gave permission to be themselves as I raised my own freak flag.

It made people smile, even for a moment. And I can get into that.

By the way, I really do read banned and challenged books.

What banned books have you read lately?

Banned Book Week

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Working in a library finds the staff always talking about books.

We talk about the ones we like, dislike, wouldn’t mind burning, and why we never will.

Banned Books picture

Banned and Challenged Books Image from a friend’s Facebook page

We talk with our patrons about the same thing as well as observations about various books. I remember one conversation in which the patron stated he read Mein Kampft. He read it to see what it was all about. And what he noted was if you could get past all of the hatred in the book, there was a solid economic plan for Germany in those days of incredible inflation.

Other times I have heard patrons talk about how they don’t like the language in some of their favorite authors changing to something a bit harsher, more vulgar. And the sexier novels are not always appreciated either.

Maybe they don’t like the sexuality that is dealing with something abusive or the violence of crime committed by serial killers.

There are a lot of reasons why people hate various books. But there are more reasons why we shouldn’t ban them.

Like it or not, we need these various ideas floating around so we can inspect them and see what works and what doesn’t. As much as I dislike the ideas floating around in the original black Sambo book, I believe we need to see it to remember what we don’t want to be. I have seen other versions of Sambo that are not so racially charged. In those books, Sambo is telling the same folktales and is not some caricature.

We celebrate Banned Book Week in libraries this week because we want to remind people that books shouldn’t be banned, ideas shouldn’t be hidden, people shouldn’t be silenced. And that includes the repugnant ones. Once you start banning books, ideas, people it never ends. There is never a line that stops it.

Did we not learn that from WWII and the Nazis? It started with Jews and worked it way to socialists, intelligentsia, journalists, unions, gypsies, religious groups, etc. There were at least 37 badges in various colors and dots or bars to designate your status in Nazi Germany..

The perks of being a wallflowerSo this week, take the time to watch a banned book turned into a movie. Maybe it is To Kill a Mockingbird starring Gregory Peck. Maybe it is The Perks of Being a Wallflower starring Emma Watson and Ezra Miller about two teens who bring a shy boy into their circle. Maybe it is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone starring Daniel Radcliffe about a wizarding boy who survives an attack that brings him notoriety and danger.

There are many choices because there is no limit to what people seek to ban. That is if you’re so inclined for a banned book turned into a movie.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

bannedbooks-2016

 

It is that special week again when we celebrate books that were challenged or banned in libraries and school libraries across the country. I hope that the ALA does not mind I took their great graphic and the list of the top ten banned or challenged books for 2015.

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

So ask yourself when was the last time you read a banned book, on purpose?

Fighting the Ban

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

While preparing for this week’s column, I remembered that it is Banned Books Week.

There are many freedoms we think about on a regular basis, but the freedom to pick and choose what reading material or other mediums of expression we want to consume is something dear to my heart.

Movie Poster Image from IMDb.com

Movie Poster Image from IMDb.com

Every year the American Library Association puts out a list of books that have been challenged and it never ceases to amaze me what is being challenged. Books such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Huck Finn, The Hunger Games, and Where’s Waldo.

The problem with with the first two is that they use language appropriate to the time period in which they are set that is no longer deemed appropriate in polite or mixed-race company. The Hunger Games is brutally violent in places. But what these three books and the Harry Potter series points out is the wrongs of bullying, racism, and tyrannical governments. They name the wrongs in our societies, display them for all to see and understand.

Sometimes it is hard for us to look at those ugly aspects. But if we are to become better as a society, we must view them and change accordingly.

Knowing what I was going to write about reminded me of stories my mother used to tell from her growing up years in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. The Catholic kids would pay the protestant kids to see the biblical movies of the time because the Catholic Church had forbidden their parishioners from attending. The thought was these movies glamorized the bible stories, sexed them up a bit, and that was not appropriate viewing for anyone.

She talked about seeing Samson and Delilah along with The Ten Commandments. Other flicks from this time include David and Bathsheba, The Robe, Ben Hur, and Solomon & Sheba. In recent times, I have seen protests against The Passion of the Christ and The Last Temptation of Christ.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

While I understand that some of these movies may not portray the picture of the bible as some people may want, I also understand that much – not all- of what is portrayed is fairly accurate for the time period. I, personally, can never watch The Passion ever again because of the level of violence in it but nor can I deny its ability to tell the story well.

When it comes to reading material or movies that kids in your family want to consume but makes you feel uncertain, I suggest reading or watching the movie/TV show first without them around. Knowing what is in that medium helps you direct the conversation as to why or why not you will allow your child to have that material.

In the end, I do not recommend banning books because you make the undesirable into something irresistible. Especially for people like me who want to know what made a book targeted for banning. When I found out Where’s Waldo was on the list because there was ‘reportedly’ a topless woman in a beach scene, I searched through that first book in the series.

I have yet to find her.

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.