Sandra’s Banned Book List
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss’s, The Lorax, was banned in 1989 in Laytonville, California for its supposed attempt to influence children to think of the logging industry in a negative manner, thus persuading children to be against logging. Others also claim that it, too heavily, promoted environmentalism. I think this is just absurd and was extremely surprised to find The Lorax on the banned book list. While this book serves as a perfect tool for teaching about pollution and protecting the environment, with California currently facing a severe drought, I think this book is extremely fitting and is a good source for teaching children the importance of conserving. This book would not only help me to introduce an important topic relevant to a current issue that far too many Californian’s take lightly, but will also provoke students to think about ways they can help the environment and how to best utilize the limited resources available to us. That said, in my attempt to advocate for this book, I would design some kind of document, perhaps a brochure, informing administration and parents of a real life issue that is currently affecting millions of Californian’s and people of nearby states. Sometimes adults’ misunderstandings are a result of their lack of knowledge on about a topic. Hopefully with some credible, accurate information, adults will have a better understanding of the issue and take considerable steps towards improving the environment, and in doing so support their children’s decisions to make positive contributions to the environment.
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Tim O’Brien’s, “The Things They Carried”, has been placed on banned books list across the nation for its dark and graphic content. While such claims are pretty accurate, regarding the book’s dark content, I do believe that when teaching young adults about the Vietnam War, this book serves as an excellent tool. This book was inspired by author and Vietnam veteran, Tim O’Brien’s experiences in the war, thus the accurate portrayal of the war demonstrated in this book teaches students about the realities of war and its unnecessity. On a broader scope, this book also teaches about basic human struggles and overcoming life obstacles. To advocate for this book, I would explain to parents and administration that unlike many other sources of entertainment that students have come across, this book does not at all glorify the war experience. Instead, it illustrates that there are no winners in war nor is there any truth. Also, I would stress the importance of exposing students to reality, as it helps them to prepare for adult life in the real world.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl was banned for its “sexual” and “pornographic” content. According to the The American Library Association,“…there have been six challenges to the book in the United States since it started keeping records on bans and challenges in 1990, and most of the concerns were about sexually explicit material"- referencing the part in which Anne Frank describes her genitalia. The purpose of this book was certainly not to teach about the anatomy of a young girl’s body, rather to offer one’s intriguing commentary on human courage and frailty. In advocating for this book, I would inform parents and administration of the various significant themes addressed in this book such as the holocaust, the Jewish experience, growing up, tolerance, acceptance, and the war. I would also stress the importance of introducing literature that can help students understand their physical development, especially at an age where students are experiencing physical changes, as not all students feel comfortable talking about such private matters to those close to them.
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein was banned for several different reasons. Parents suggested that some of the poems supported cannibalism, undermined parental authority, promoted rebellion, and encourage drug use. Adults need to understand that children interpret these books very differently than they do. To advocate for this book, I would stress the importance of exposing children to various types of writing and communication styles. With books like these, that include drawing and poems, children learn about other fun ways that they can express their ideas. A great teacher encourages creativity and use of the imagination in the classroom, exposing children to poetry and visual art provokes students to explore different ways of expressing themselves.
King and King by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland
“King and King” by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland raised controversy among conservatives in several U.S. states. The homosexual content found in this book caused quite a stir, with many people in opposition of children’s access to the book and many others defending its value and the need for it in the classroom. In advocating for this book, I would emphasize the importance of catering to a diverse population and fulfilling the needs of EVERY single student. I would remind parents and administration that as a teacher, I am there to support each of my students and will do whatever is necessary to provide a well-rounded, safe environment for them.
Tessala's article: out.pdf
Our Reaction to the Articles
Alyson Miller’s article titled, Unsuited to Age Group: The Scandals of Children’s Literature, examines the controversy surrounding children’s exposure to literature containing reference to homosexuality and / or sexual behavior. In exploring public debates regarding the content in children’s literature, Miller suggests that such conflicts arise simply from people’s fears of having their conventional values challenged. From the evidence presented here, Miller’s conclusion seems fairly accurate. Regarding Leslea Newman’s, “Heather Has Two Mommies”, a story about same-sex marriage, right-wing American political columnist Alisa Craddock commented the following: “free sexuality is not a ‘right.’ Nothing that is destructive to the general welfare of society is a right. However, if homosexuality is artificially elevated to the status of a right, it will immediately begin conflicting with authentic rights, especially freedom of speech and religion”(Miller, 2014). Books that share similar themes of homosexuality such as “King and King”, “Daddy’s Roommate”, and “And Tango Makes Three”, raise similar concerns as critics demonstrate unnecessary fear that such texts could persuade the reader to believe and take part of new ideas they view as unconventional or inherently false. Ciritcs believe that in normalizing "sexual otherness" through mainstream texts or media, their children will somehow become indoctrinated. The child will believe this behavior to be normal and may even become one. These fears held by the conservative, the religious, and those simply unwilling to accept change are a challenge to the very purpose of public schools. Our education system has been instilled with the task of creating students, and eventually citizens who can and will contribute positively to society. Our culture is changing and being able to not only tolerate but to accept the changes is a large part of being a positive addition to a global society.
Another topic up for scrutiny in the article is that of sexual behavior in young people. Critics believe that students will feel inclined to perform the acts they read about in literature and therefore seek to ban books they believe to be unsuitable for the age group. This leads to the questions of whether morality and abstinence should come before complete education and discussion of the realities of sexuality in pre/pubescent readers. This is another controversial issue that gains mainstream attention but is sorely lacking in the expressed opinions of those actually effected by bans or restrictions, the young reader. If, as a nation, we do not provide comprehensive sex education for our students in schools, should we not ensure they have access to literature for reliable information?
Ironically, meanwhile adults continue to fuss about the inappropriateness of the content found in children’s books, as they proceed their efforts to get books banned, their children are expressing contrary views when it comes to what is and is not appropriate. In Natasha Isajlovic-Terry and Lynne McKechnie’s article entitled “An Exploratory Study of Children's Views of Censorship”, children between the ages of 9 and 12 not only express contrary beliefs about what they consider inappropriate, but agree that censorship is unnecessary in most cases. This study is especially important because it concentrates on children’s opinions about a topic in which they are the main focus, yet whose views are often overlooked. It appears here, that content in books involving same-sex marriages is not at all considered inappropriate by children. Instead, what children regard as inappropriate is scary and violent content which many adults would agree with. Still, children agree that books containing such content should at most be restricted but never removed. According to the article, “When discussing Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Sarah said, “I think that…they should limit it to like older kids,” but she also indicated the book not be removed from the library even though it might frighten some children” (Isajlovic-Terry and McKechnie, 2012). While parents and children may agree about scary content, the two are in disagreement when it comes to homosexuality, sex, the paranormal, and witchcraft and wizardry in children’s books. While parents find this content offensive, children were not at all concerned with such themes appearing in books.
The children of the study were very accepting of their roles aschildren and did not appear upset that the adults in their schools had the authority to prohibit books due to appropriateness, but they also believed they could judge what was suitable themselves. They claimed that at school they must obey what the teacher or librarian said, but once home they no longer had to abide by the restictions. They also acted with independent agency, stating that there were other ways to get access to banned books, like asking an older sibling or friends, finding the books at the public library instead of at school, or simply not telling anyone what they were reading. They felt they could determine on their own whether a book was too mature for them. In a seperate article discussing the controversy surrounding the Twlight novels, it was stated that "book bans serve only to shame children and heighten their curiosity." This is strengthened by one of the children of the study repeatedly claiming that once a child is told they may not read a book it will only make them want it more. I feel this is a very astute observation by the young participant because it shows she has a thourough grasp on the effects of banning books.
In reviewing both articles we concluded that special attention be given to the opinions of children when it comes to the appropriateness of the content found in books, since they are the ones effected by it firsthand. Over time, education has increasingly become a paramount role in a child’s development. With literature being such a significant part of education, it is critical that educators provide their students with resources rich in diversity, from which they can learn and develop character and in some cases, build tolerance.