Celebrate Banned Books…

This is Banned Books Week as promoted by the American Library Association.

Think about that for a minute. What on earth is the rationale behind banning a book? If that question doesn’t boggle your mind as much as it does mine have a look at the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books list maintained by the ALA.

Here are my favorites (and by favorites I mean that in a sense of shock and awe at the stupidity of the self-appointed monitors of public morality who live among us):

Of Mice and Men
by John Steinbeck – an utter and total classic work of American literature.

Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling – childrens’ books found objectionable because the heroes are wizards and witches.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – oooh, a confused teenage boy swears a lot.

Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine – another set of childrens’ fiction that people challenge because it talks about the supernatural.

Final Exit by Derek Humphry – a book about euthenasia.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – uh oh, it’s a work of science fiction that postulates a world of inequality driven by sexism.

What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras and What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras – heaven forbid that kids should actually understand their own physiology. What’s really fascinating is that the book for girls is far higher up on the list, as in far more frequently challenged, than the book for boys is. I suppose the logic is that boys need to understand their equipment but girls should remain ignorant.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – if you read this book and you’re offended then you’re a friggin’ bigot.

Cujo by Stephen King – ????? It’s about a rabid dog. This is somehow immoral?

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut – If I were a fascist trying to retain power I’d probably want to prevent people from reading a book that documents war crimes and attrocities committed by the Americans and English in WWII.

Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford – ok, this is just confusing.

The most astonishing thing about this list though is the number of times that Judy Blume’s books show up on here. Parents objecting to Forever, which is about teenage sexuality and deals with it in a very frank way, I sort of understand. But the rest of her pre-teen books… well, that just makes me shake my head like the duck in the Aflac ads.

I highly recommend you head to your local library and check out a banned book this week. Read it and enjoy it and encourage others to do likewise.

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