Banned Books Week 2013

Banned Books Week, which is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA), is September 22−28, 2013.

Here are a few articles about banned books that may interest you.

We begin with a list of 10 children’s books that have been banned in different countries for different reasons.

Open Road Media has an article from last year that is filled with links to other article about banned books.  Also, don’t miss the short video featuring authors talking about banned books.  If you go to their Banned Books web page and click on a book cover, you will get info on why that book was banned.  There is one glitch: you may have to scroll down the page in order to see the information on the book.

Invisible Man 2

And just in case you think that book banning is a thing of the past, here is an article dated September 16, 2013 about the Randolph County, North Carolina school system banning Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison from its high school libraries because of one parent’s complaint about it.  According to the article the book is on the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s list of suggested supplemental works for high school students, and both a school advisory committee and a district advisory committee recommended that the book be kept on the reading list.  Nonetheless, the school board voted 5-2 to remove it.

Harry Potter

Some people feel strongly that children should not read the Harry Potter books.  Here are some of the reasons why.

Most good novels, and most good movies for that matter, are about a battle between good and evil.  The names of the characters, the setting, the details, and the plot twists may change, but they are still about the battle between good and evil.  And in most cases good wins out though the odds against it seem impossibly great.  We learn a few lessons from this.  One is that evil must be opposed.  Another is that we should never give up when we are fighting for what is right.

Millions of children have read J. K. Rowling’s entire seven-book Harry Potter series.  In many cases these are children who have seldom willingly read an entire book.  And what have they learned?  They have learned that evil must be opposed, and that we should never give up when we are fighting for what is right.

Most of the kids who read Rowling’s books know the difference between make-believe and reality.  They’ve seen Sleeping Beauty, and The Wizard of Oz, and Beauty and the Beast, and Superman.  They know that witches aren’t real, that teacups and candlestick holders can’t really talk, and that no one can leap tall buildings in a single bound.  Children are smarter than some people think.

The Greek myths were an attempt by the people of long ago to make sense of the things they couldn’t understand.  Why did the sun come up every day?  What caused lightning?  Why did rivers overflow and drown people?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  People are still trying to make sense of the things they don’t understand.  And when some people – a minority thankfully – don’t understand something, they insist with certainty that the devil is at work.  That’s the only possible explanation to them.  Their minds are closed and there is no hope of opening them.

Since I have seen so much good come from kids reading the Harry Potter novels, I will continue to reject the cries from the judgmental few that we are doing great harm to our children by allowing them to read these wonderful books.

Long live Harry Potter!

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