Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Banned Books Week (a few days late...)

So, I know I've been a bit.... lazy... when it comes to blogging. Looks like I really wasn't ready for the adjustment to being back at work from the lazy days of summer. But, hopefully I will get better at posting!

So, for Banned Books Week I read a ton of banned books and wanted to share my thoughts with you on them and why I think they are fantastic books and need to stop getting challenged!

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Summary (via Goodreads):

Since the beginning of the school year, high school freshman Melinda has found that it's been getting harder and harder for her to speak out loud: "My throat is always sore, my lips raw.... Every time I try to talk to my parents or a teacher, I sputter or freeze.... It's like I have some kind of spastic laryngitis." What could have caused Melinda to suddenly fall mute? Could it be due to the fact that no one at school is speaking to her because she called the cops and got everyone busted at the seniors' big end-of-summer party? Or maybe it's because her parents' only form of communication is Post-It notes written on their way out the door to their nine-to-whenever jobs. While Melinda is bothered by these things, deep down she knows the real reason why she's been struck mute...

Laurie Halse Anderson's first novel is a stunning and sympathetic tribute to the teenage outcast. The triumphant ending, in which Melinda finds her voice, is cause for cheering (while many readers might also shed a tear or two). After reading Speak, it will be hard for any teen to look at the class scapegoat again without a measure of compassion and understanding for that person--who may be screaming beneath the silence.

I have to say this book surprised me and moved me in ways that no other book has in a while. I had a girlfriend in high school who later told me in college that she was raped by one of our classmates and had never said anything about it. She waited until 5 years later to start seeing someone about her experience and really come to terms with what happened. I feel like if she had read a book like this that she would have spoken out much earlier.

So, I kept thinking of her while reading this. I knew the guy who did it, I actually had a bad feeling whenever he talked to me but I had no idea what he was capable of. I think it's novels like these that really speak to high school girls and definitely is a book that should stay on the shelves not be taken off of them.

The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

Summary (via Goodreads):

When naughty George and Harold hypnotise their headteacher, they accidentally create the greatest superhero in the history of their school - Captain Underpants! His true identity is so secret that even he doesn't know who he is...but he's fighting for truth, justice, and all things pre-shrunk and cottony!! If you're a naghty villain like the diabolical Dr Diaper, watch out! Captain Underpants has wedgie-power on his side, and he's coming your way.

So, I actually had to look up why this was challenged and eventually banned from libraries because really? These books FLY off my shelves, every kid wants to know where to find these books in my library and I can't keep enough of them in to accommodate all the students I have reading them. So here it is:

Challenged for anti-family content, being unsuited to age group and violence.
Challenged for offensive language and modeling bad behavior.
Banned for insensitivity and being unsuited to age group, as well as encouraging children to disobey authority.
Banned in Naugatuck (CN) due to concerns that it caused unruly behavior among children.*

(*Information taken from Marshal University Libraries.)

Are you kidding me? How ridiculous is that? I, for one, thought these books were hysterical and the type of book that gets reluctant readers actually READING. I know... we don't want our students to read fun books do we? They should all be boring outdated, follow the rules and get rewarded books. Heck no!

I really love this series and it would kill me as a librarian to pull these off the shelves.

The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby by Dav Pilkey

Summary (via Goodreads):

Move over, Captain Underpants! There's a tiny new superhero in town. Undaunted by Principal Krupp's insistence that their essay assignment on good citizenship not be another comic book about the briefs-clad warrior, fourth graders George and Harold decide to invent a new superhero. Super Diaper Baby is born! It's up to our fearless infant hero to save the planet from diabolical Deputy Doo-Doo and his reluctantly evil pooch, Danger Dog ("I'm not really evil. I'm just in it for the kibbles."). Several robotic battles, intergalactic digressions, and "flip-o-ramas" later, Super Diaper Baby has done his duty, and George and Harold are in trouble yet again with their principal. Still, it was worth it, as any fan of Dav Pilkey's lowbrow, scatologically inclined "epic novels" (The Adventures of Captain Underpants, Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman, etc.) will attest. George and Harold's spelling is atrocious, their humor is straight off the grade school playground, and kids love every page of it.

So, I had to read the next banned book by Dav Pilkey and it was just as fun as The Adventures of Captain Underpants. Banned for some of the same reasons, I really am disappointed in parents who have challenged these books. And let's just say I love these books so much and I can't wait to pick up Dav's latest spin-off - Ook & Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen of the Future. Will this one be as challenged as the rest?

Last, and not least is:

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Imagine coming upon a fountain of youth in a forest. To live forever--isn't that everyone's ideal? For the Tuck family, eternal life is a reality, but their reaction to their fate is surprising. Award winner Natalie Babbitt (Knee-Knock Rise, The Search for Delicious) outdoes herself in this sensitive, moving adventure in which 10-year-old Winnie Foster is kidnapped, finds herself helping a murderer out of jail, and is eventually offered the ultimate gift--but doesn't know whether to accept it. Babbitt asks profound questions about the meaning of life and death, and leaves the reader with a greater appreciation for the perfect cycle of nature. Intense and powerful, exciting and poignant, Tuck Everlasting will last forever--in the reader's imagination.

This is another one I wasn't quite sure why it was pulled off the shelves. Guess the fountain of youth in the story raised questions of it supporting witchcraft and the occult. I swear, are these people insane?

Tuck Everlasting is a time-old fantasy story that has won a ton of awards and is a staple of every elementary and middle school library. It's set in older days but has this curious aspect of a family that defied time. I really enjoyed it, having read it for the first time and would love to talk it up in my library to get more students interested in reading it.

So, that's what I read and I would fight for all of these to stay in libraries. Only books denying the Holocaust happened need to be banned - seriously. No, really - they exist, I did not make that up...


  1. I just finished Speak this weekend and it was powerful!

  2. I can't believe CU has been banned; they're so silly and fun. Admittedly I'm not a fan but I don't care if others read them. I really, really need to read Tuck Everlasting; I missed out on it in elementary school.

  3. I had no idea Cap Underpants is banned! EEP!

  4. I didn't know that Tuck Everlasting was also banned. I really can't see why these books are included.

    Just dropped by to tell you I've given you an award! Congratulations. :)

    Musings of a Reader Happy

  5. I love Tuck Everlasting! I didn't know it was banned . . .

  6. I can't believe they ban some of these book. Being a parent I get you should screen what your kids see, read, hear and do. I am all for a parent telling thier child yes or no on what they do. I just don't see how pushing it out of everyone else's life makes it ok.


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