There is such a thing as an appropriate audience and particularly when it comes to something that is assigned there should be care taken to respect the beliefs and values of the community. But that doesn't mean that the books shouldn't be written or available. In fact, there is great value in expanding the views and understandings of our individual worlds and one of the best ways to do this is by reading. What might be seen as offensive and harmful to some might just be someone else's daily reality.
Over the course of history pretty much every book has been at least challenged if not banned out-right but it's always interesting to me to see which ones have and why.
There are a few somewhat obvious incidents like In the Night Kitchen, the various coming of age Judy Blume novels, and 'risque' adult works like The Color Purple or Satanic Verses. But then there are the obscure and head-scratching cases like Goodnight Moon, Little Women, and my beloved Elephant and Piggie books. (A quick google search will give you some interesting lists of books that have been banned or challenged or you can go to the American Library Association website for some more info.)
But I wanted to spotlight just a few of my favorite reads of all time, all of which have been challenged and/or banned on various occasions:
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
-for sexuality, mentions of suicidal thoughts and gritty teen situations
The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
-for promoting witchcraft, Satanism, violence and being too dark
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
-for using racial slurs, advocating white supremacy, violence
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeliene L'Engle
-for supporting occultist religions and acts
*this year marks the 50th anniversary of publication!
The Giver series by Lois Lowry
-for supporting sexuality and scenes of violence, belittling motherhood, disrespecting the elderly
*the 4th and final installment, Son, is out this month!
Then there's The Hunger Games, just about anything by Roald Dahl, Bridge to Terabithia, The Diary of Anne Frank, Grimm's Fairy Tales, Harriet the Spy, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble...the list goes on and on. Chances are if you've read more than a handful of books in your life you've read a banned or challenged book.
In my mind it's just a tiny step from banning to burning, from censorship to mind control. (You've all read Fahrenheit 451, right? or 1984?) So, take a stand against The Man and read a banned book this week!
And you don't have to take my word for it!
"Without freedom of speech, there is no freedom."
"The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame."
"Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear."
-- Harry S. Truman, message to Congress, August 8, 1950
"Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings."
-- Heinrich Heine
"Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance."
-- Lyndon Baines Johnson, February 11, 1964