Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Top 5 Wednesdays - Banned Books I've Read

Hello everyone!

Its been a while since I wrote a T5W post, sometimes I just don't love the topic. But I really thought this one is an interesting one. This weeks topic, banned books, is a very interesting one. Here in Canada, I feel like we are a little more free about our reading selections for school and that sort of thing, at least more so than the United States.

Still, the topic of a banned book is interesting. What makes a book "banned?" Who has the authority to ban these books and what are the messages that people are missing out on by avoiding these banned books?

I'll go through my full list in a little bit, but one of the most widely criticized "modern classics" if you will is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Now, I myself have read and loved this book twice, having to read it for both grade 11 and grade 12 (I moved schools) and I think there is a great message to this book.

Now, despite whatever your thoughts are on Hosseini's writing style, and whether or not you think the book has too much of a "full circle" ending, this is a widely fought book. Why do you ask? Is it because the story takes place in war-torn Afghanistan and there are terrible scenes with terrorist groups? Is it because the book deals with drinking and drugs? Or adultery? These are all perfectly acceptable reasons why some parents may not want their child reading this book. But the main reason? A male-male rape scene.

Now, I had an English teacher in grade 12 who had a parent come to her, frantic, saying that their child cannot read such a book. But they had no problems with that child reading The Lovely Bones, a book where a little girl is kidnapped, raped and murdered by a male neighbour. Now, this isn't a discussion on sexuality, or whatever. This is solely about the fact that some books, having certain content are less acceptable then other books, with a similar situation.

It concerns me that some parents won't allow their child to experience real life events in a fairly safe and controlled environment. If you are a parent, I'm not trying to tell you how to raise your child, and I'm certainly not condoning a book with a rape scene for a child who cannot handle a situation like that nor am I condoning this kind of behaviour, but at some point, kids need to learn about the world around them, as scary and frightening as it may be for the parents.

I guess my main point here is, can we ban books from schools? And why should we? I think that a classroom is a great place to learn about these scary topics, whether it is rape in The Kite Runner or racism in To Kill a Mockingbird, these are hard topics that people need to know about for the real world.

So, after that long and drawn out tangent, I will now get to my list of banned books!

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This book was banned for "depictions of homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoints and sexually explicit scenes." As I said earlier, I've read and loved this book multiple times, but I can see where some parents would have problems with this book. That being said, should it be unavailable to all?

(source)

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

This classic, which I also loved, is criticized for being "demoralizing, in that it implies that man is little more than an animal" as well as being considered racist and containing “statements defamatory to minorities, God, women, and the disabled.” While some other these claims do have some backing, the book was published in the 50's, a time when people were a lot less understanding than they are now, and the author was writing for the time period he was in.

(source)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Similar to LotF, this is a book written and published in the 60's, in the height of American segregation and racism. It is critiqued for causing “psychological damage to the positive integration process and represents institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature.” The book also uses the N-word, at least 4 dozen or so times, and may be the most controversial banned book. I read this book in grade 9, and it was an eye-opener for sure. Should children be allowed to experience this drastic use of racism and prejudice? And at what age is this book acceptable to read?

(source)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This book, as well as the movie adaptation, deal with a few important issues teens deal with, including sexuality, abuse, mental health - in an easy to read letter format. Many reviewers called this a book that "will engage teen readers for years" and while it wasn't one of my personal favourites, I agree with those who think that these are important lessons for young people to understand. The book has been banned in one American city "because of a two-page section of the book in which Charlie witnesses date rape. It’s the section most often contested [to the American Library Association]."

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I had to do a little research on this one, because even though I've read it twice, once in grade 7 and again last winter, I can't think of anything offhand that might make this book offensive. Apparently, most of the challenges against this book are about "violence" and the fact that it is "unsuitable for the age group". I guess that could be an issue for some people, but I don't know if there is enough of it in the book to really have a cause for concern.



And that's that! I'm interested in your thoughts on banned books. Should we restrict reading? Who should be able to decide what is and isn't accessible to the younger generation? Leave a comment with your thoughts!