Banned Books Week 2017

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No new episode this week, just a reminder that it is Banned Books Week 2017. At Novel Ideas we have read several books that are frequently challenged or banned from schools and libraries. Part of this is by intention; neither of us are particularly into censorship. The other part is happenstance; many excellent books have been challenged, and frequently the challenged material is part of what makes the story memorable or compelling.

When you look at the reasons that books are challenged, those reasons seem to me (Ben is writing this post, but Gabs will probably agree with most of this) to be based partly on values that I don’t agree with, and partly on laziness. For example, most of the books from this year’s list have been challenged because they include LGBTQ characters. Other reasons for challenging books from recent years include acknowledging teenage sexuality, or even just including characters that defy authority figures. We don’t need to protect children from these ideas, these are real things that exist in the real world.

The reason I describe these challenges as lazy is because you can always have a conversation with your child about how the content of the book fits into the world. Just because someone is doing something in a book doesn’t mean that the intent of the author is to glorify that thing. And even if it is, that doesn’t mean that you as the reader are required to also glorify that thing. And I would further suggest that if your ideology is so fragile that merely being made aware of the existence of something outside of that worldview will poison your child’s mind, then your ideology probably needs some reform.

Having said my piece, I present you with a non-comprehensive list of episodes we have done featuring banned books.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

Beloved – Toni Morrison

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

The Color Purple – Alice Walker

The Golden Compass (from His Dark Materials trilogy) – Philip Pullman

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