Friday, January 09, 2009

Censorship

When I was very young, I remember the Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax, being banned from our public school library. That story shocks many people because Seuss is such a beloved, and harmless, figure. There is no nudity in Lorax. Nobody curses, no one is murdered, and none of the characters even mentions having two mommies. Nevertheless, after parent complaints, The Lorax was gone.

Why? Because I lived in rural Oregon in the early 1980's. The timber industry was busy shedding jobs, and many logging families (maybe half my little school?) attributed this to liberal forestry policies (hrm let's check, who was president then?). The Lorax included themes about ecological conservation, and this was unacceptable to many parents. Rather than simply preventing their own children from reading the hateful book, these parents felt the need to prevent everybody's children from reading it.

That, to me, is the most amazing thing about censorship. It's not about one person avoiding a certain book. It's not about keeping their child from seeing the book. It's about that person wanting to make this choice for everyone. This reminds me a lot of the gay marriage movement. If you, an individual, don't like gay marriage, then don't have one! Why in the name of everything important do you need to impose that belief on everyone else?

It is amazing that censorship still exists in our country, but it most certainly does. Usually, the excuse for this is to "protect the children." One of my favorite examples of this logic is from a school district in California who, the story goes, handed out copies of Fahrenheit 451 to it's 8th grade English classes. The books had the "naughty" words like "hell" and "damn" blacked out. The main theme of Fahrenheit 451? The horrors of censorship.

Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books in 2000-2007

1 Harry Potter J.K. Rowling
2 Alice series Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3 The Chocolate War Robert Cormier
4 Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck
5 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou
6 Scary Stories Alvin Schwartz
7 Fallen Angels Walter Dean Myers
8 It’s Perfectly Normal Robie Harris
9 And Tango Makes Three Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
10 Captain Underpants Dav Pilkey
11 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
12 The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison
13 Forever Judy Blume
14 The Color Purple Alice Walker
15 The Perks of Being A Wallflower Stephen Chbosky
16 Killing Mr. Griffin Lois Duncan
17 Go Ask Alice Anonymous
18 King and King Linda de Haan
19 Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
20 Bridge to Terabithia Katherine Paterson
21 The Giver Lois Lowry
22 We All Fall Down Robert Cormier
23 To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee`
24 Beloved Toni Morrison
25 The Face on the Milk Carton Caroline Cooney
26 Snow Falling on Cedars David Guterson
27 My Brother Sam Is Dead James Lincoln Collier
28 In the Night Kitchen Maurice Sendak
29 His Dark Materials series Philip Pullman
30 Gossip Girl series Cecily von Ziegesar
31 What My Mother Doesn’t Know Sonya Sones
32 Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging Louise Rennison
33 It’s So Amazing Robie Harris
34 Arming America Michael Bellasiles
35 Kaffir Boy Mark Mathabane
36 Blubber Judy Blume
37 Brave New World Aldous Huxley
38 Athletic Shorts Chris Crutcher
39 Bless Me, Ultima Rudolfo Anaya
40 Life is Funny E.R. Frank
41 Daughters of Eve Lois Duncan
42 Crazy Lady Jane Leslie Conly
43 The Great Gilly Hopkins Katherine Paterson
44 You Hear Me Betsy Franco
45 Slaughterhouse Five Kurt Vonnegut
46 Whale Talk Chris Crutcher
47 The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby Dav Pilkey
48 The Facts Speak for Themselves Brock Cole
49 The Terrorist Caroline Cooney
50 Mick Harte Was Here Barbara Park
51 Summer of My German Soldier Bette Green
52 The Upstairs Room Johanna Reiss
53 When Dad Killed Mom Julius Lester
54 Blood and Chocolate Annette Curtis Klause
55 The Fighting Ground Avi
56 The Things They Carried Tim O'Brien
57 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Mildred Taylor
58 Fat Kid Rules the World K.L. Going
59 The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things Carolyn Mackler
60 A Time To Kill John Grisham
61 Rainbow Boys Alex Sanchez
62 Olive’s Ocean Kevin Henkes
63 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Ken Kesey
64 A Day No Pigs Would Die Robert Newton Peck
65 Speak Laurie Halse Anderson
66 Always Running Luis Rodriguez
67 Black Boy Richard Wright
68 Julie of the Wolves Jean Craighead George
69 Deal With It! Esther Drill
70 Detour for Emmy Marilyn Reynolds
71 Draw Me A Star Eric Carle
72 Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
73 Harris and Me Gary Paulsen
74 Junie B. Jones series Barbara Park
75 So Far From the Bamboo Grove Yoko Watkins
76 Song of Solomon Toni Morrison
77 Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes Chris Crutcher
78 What’s Happening to My Body Book Lynda Madaras
79 The Boy Who Lost His Face Louis Sachar
80 The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold
81 Anastasia Again! Lois Lowry
82 Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret Judy Blume
83 Bumps In the Night Harry Allard
84 Goosebumps series R.L. Stine
85 Shade’s Children Garth Nix
86 Cut Patricia McCormick
87 Grendel John Gardner
88 The House of Spirits Isabel Allende
89 I Saw Esau Iona Opte
90 Ironman Chris Crutcher
91 The Stupids series Harry Allard
92 Taming the Star Runner S.E. Hinton
93 Then Again, Maybe I Won’t Judy Blume
94 Tiger Eyes Judy Blume
95 Like Water for Chocolate Laura Esquivel
96 Nathan’s Run John Gilstrap
97 Pinkerton, Behave! Steven Kellog
98 Freaky Friday Mary Rodgers
99 Halloween ABC Eve Merriam
100 Heather Has Two Mommies Leslea Newman

3 comments:

Mathias said...

Damn. Looks like I'm missing out on life. I have haven't read most of these.

Need to catchup. Is Captain Underpants any good?

Joy to the World said...

Can't say that I've ever read any Captain Underpants. It's a bit young for my crowd.

Anonymous said...

Most of the books on this list are fantastic, yet some controversial subjects appear.