Friday, October 5, 2007

From Huck Finn To Harry Potter

Now that it's almost over, I finally have time to post about Banned Book Week, Sept. 29 through October 6, 2007.

Growing up I was allowed to read anything I wanted, and I raised Jean the same way. I feel the simple act of reading is paramount, followed closely by variety in reading. Much can be learned from the classics, but the same can be said for modern pop fiction. Nothing was/is off limits in our home. I feel that we have the right to read whatever we like, and in fact, should desire to read controversial literature.

During the course of history, some of the least likely of titles have been considered controversial and many books have been banned or challenged. Some later gained acceptance, only to be banned or challenged again at a later time.

According to ALA, at least 42 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been the target of ban attempts. Of the novels on their list, I have read a total of 37, the large majority of which were the challenged books (I wish I could say I've read more of the books on this list, but undoubtedly, I was busy reading other controversial books).

Or take a look at this list of 100 books banned from 1990 to 2000. Most of these are novels for young adults. I remember reading many of them when I was in school (many years ago). Most amazing to me is that the picture-search book "Where's Waldo" was banned because of a set of tiny cartoon breasts, and that factual book about human reproduction and puberty were banned for any reason.

So, what do you think? Do you read banned books yourself? Do you let your children read them? How do you decide what is age appropriate for kids and when they are ready to move on to something more "advanced"?

The rule of thumb in our house was that if you needed to ask more than three questions about content (controversial concepts or not), then the book might be too advanced. But it was always alright to read with a dictionary along side.


DadGuy said...

I encourage reading quite a bit.

I'd be a little less inclined to read the controversial stuff. Simply because some of that is garbage. not all, of course, but some.

Really though I'm not particularly interested in most of it. I don't need to push the limits or be edgy. My interests lie elsewhere.

Annie Jones said...

Dadguy: I think, for me, it's a generally reluctance to take someone else's word for anything. I want to find out what the fuss is all about and draw my own conclusions.