Why I Read Banned Books

Jun 24, 2008

Posted by: Doris | Comments


“Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won’t have as much censorship because we won’t have as much fear.”

~ Judy Blume

Judy Blume is a wise and insightful woman!

Every year, the American Library Association publishes its list of the most challenged books. You can see the ALA Top Ten Banned Books for 2007 list here. Harry Potter is number seven on the most challenged book list between 1990 and 2000. The most challenged books for that decade here.

This year, the book challenged most often is a wonderful book about the love of a family. The book, based on a true story of two penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo, is the beautiful account about a couple’s desire to have a baby. The most challenged book in 2007, “And Tango Makes Three’ by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell , like Harry Potter, is essentially about love.

Why would a book about a family, about love be so controversial? No, this book doesn’t contain sexual acts, it doesn’t have mutilation, it doesn’t depict physical or mental abuse of any kind. This book does have two parents who love each other and want a child. Their family is complete when Tango comes into their lives. Doesn’t this seem like the kind of story we’d want our children reading?

According to the ALA this book is being challenged is because the book is considered to have themes of;

“Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, [and] Unsuited to Age Group.”

Wow, those are strong criticisms for a book written for children about the formation of a family. What do so many people see wrong with this story? After all, this book has won numerous awards and it’s based on real-life events.

This story teaches children about unconditional love, about the desire for two people to raise a child, and about adoption. This book is challenged because the parents, Roy and Silo, are male. (Remember, this is based on a true story!)

You know, I have three boys. They don’t need me to read to them anymore, but we still share what we read and we’ve all read and discussed this book. I would have loved to have sat down with them when they were much younger and shared this beautiful story about love. I can’t imagine why a parent would feel it would be wrong for a child to experience such a beautiful thing. I’ve read the book several times, it’s touching, the illustrations are incredible, it’s educational, and it teaches children that all families are valuable and all people deserve love.

I do feel that a parent should have the right to encourage their child to read what they feel is appropriate for their family. While I might not agree with the choices of others, when it is your child, it is your choice. What upsets me most of all is that my rights as a reader, or as a parent could be infringed upon by those who believe differently. If you don’t feel your child should read this book, then by all means keep it out of your house. When you take your child to the public library then don’t allow them to choose that book. At the same time, don’t remove my rights by asking that this book be removed from the shelf. Parenting is about being there to help our children make responsible choices until they can make it on their own, it’s not about forcing a public library to enforce our choices for us.

I’m not asking any parent to give up their rights to teach their children to choose responsibly; I am asking other parents not to infringe on my rights to teach my children the same. Keeping this book, and countless others that are on the banned book list, on the shelf of our public libraries assures that all readers, and all parents have the right to expose their children to the literature they feel is important.

Please support our librarians and our children by reading books on this list. Banned Books Week begins September 27 and runs ’till October 7. You can read more about how to celebrate banned book week here.

Over the next few weeks we’ll continue to discuss books on the ALA’s list. I hope you come back and tell me your opinion on these “Banned Books.” I’ll also start my series on “How reading Harry Potter can help a child in school.”

Thanks everyone!

~ Doris

A very special thanks to everyone who has emailed or pmed after Hurricane Ike. Your love and prayers are greatly appreciated. My family is doing as well as expected under the circumstances, and while I might blog about this in the future (for those who have asked) it’s too soon, too painful. Thanks for understanding.

Finding Hogwarts

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.