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Banned Book Week

September 11th, 2006 · 5 Comments · Family Life

Next week (September 23-30th) is Banned Book Week. I’m not much of an activist. I don’t get involved in causes. I go about my business, quietly doing what I have to do. I help my clients, take my kids to school and hope that they aren’t too screwed up when I get through with them.


According to the people who want to ban, or the politically correct phrase now appears to be “challenge,” books,


Wahoo! Imagine me, waving my arms in the air here.

I’m surprised at the number of “Challenged” books that I’ve read. I’ve not read a whole lot that are on the “most challenged” this year, but overall I’m on a roll.

Teenaged sex books seem to have hit a nerve this year. Heaven forbid we should teach our children about sex. Or their bodies. Let’s not give them tools to deal with all these feelings they may be having but not quite knowing what to do about them. Let’s not have any avenues to discuss these things with our children. Cause heaven knows they would NEVER have any of these ideas All.On.Their.Own.

“Of Mice and Men” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” have fallen from the list of top ten Challenged books this year. Of the top 100, I’ve probably read seventy-five percent of them. You know, if I’d known there was so much sex and violence and prurient stuff in them, I’d have paid more attention. Instead, as a teenager, I called them GOD.AWFUL.BORING and moved to something else. Or I bought the Cliff Notes and tried to bluff. Or I watched the movie and tried to wing it in class. I mean seriously, if I’d known there was so much sex and violence and dirty words in some of these books, I really would have tried harder to read the ones I didn’t read.

Some I just totally fail to understand. “To Kill A Mockingbird” is probably my all time favorite book. It tells a poignant story and is beautifully written. Harper Lee can turn a phrase in a way I can only dream about. It is the story I wish I’d written, if Harper Lee hadn’t already written it. And someone, actually several someone’s, want to ban it, pull it from the library. Keep other people from reading it. You mean everyone doesn’t keep a copy of it sitting on their bedside?

And the kids books? They too baffle me.

The Series of Unfortunate Events books are there. As are the Harry Potter Books. Both series are great kids books.

Captain Underpants has caught the wrath of someone. You suppose it’s because it’s got the word underpants, right in the title?

I have read the Captain Underpants series of books. Hell, I own the Captain Underpants series of books. When one got wet we had to go buy it again lest the GirlChild die from being deprived of her Captain Underpants.

I will admit I haven’t yet seen the Captain Underpants And The Preposterous Plight Of The Purple Potty People but I might just run out right now and buy it this afternoon. Because while the GirlChild really has outgrown the Captain Underpants series of books, the BoyChild is just entering Dave Pilkey’s realm of influence.

Those books are funny. In that stupid, little kid, grossed out sort of way that kids like so well. They talk about poop and farts and wedgies and boogers. George and Harold made the GirlChild laugh. They have this stupid thing in it called the “Flip-O-Rama” where you put your hand on one page and turn the other page and it looks like things are moving; usually doing something inappropriate, punching someone, or poking someone in the eye. It has cartoons which are supposed to look like they were drawn and written by children. It gave my daughter inspiration and she drew her own cartoon for awhile.

It’s stupid. It’s exaggerated. The kids know it’s stupid and exaggerated. They know it’s making fun of school and their parents and their teachers and rules and that it ISN’T REAL.

That’s the whole point.

I have a child who doesn’t read much. Her reading skills are poor. Her comprehension is worse. What she needs to do is practice her reading. And the last thing in the world she wants to do is actually read. She would rather:

talk on the phone
play with her brother
watch tv
play on the computer
poke herself in the eye with a fork

than read a book. But she read the Captain Underpants series of books. And I don’t give a crap how inappropriate someone finds them, or their talk of boogers and poop and wedgies, I’d pay my weight in gold for something else that she will volunteer to read.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kristen // Sep 11, 2006 at 8:44 am

    A couple of thoughts:

    1.) The quickest way to make something seem more intriguing is to BAN it, duh, repressed people! Act uninterested and I’m pretty sure the kids’ll stay that way. And then maybe they won’t read about those subversive topics like underpants or -GASP!- sex.

    2.) With very few exceptions, whatever gets a kid to read is FINE. GAH.

  • 2 Maria P. // Sep 12, 2006 at 12:35 am

    I read that list a couple years ago. I laughed and closed out the window. Completely ridiculous list. I too have read a lot of the books on the list. I hope my kids do too when they are older.

  • 3 mamacita tina // Sep 12, 2006 at 5:16 am

    No better way to get kids/teenagers/anybody to read books than create a banned book list.

    Oh how I love Pilkey, Captain Underpants, Dogzilla, KatKong, Hallowiener, great stuff!

  • 4 Erin // Sep 13, 2006 at 5:18 pm

    Weird. A lot of these books I read in school. Catholic school might I add. Weird.

  • 5 Melessa // Sep 14, 2006 at 6:01 pm

    “You know, if I’d known there was so much sex and violence and prurient stuff in them, I’d have paid more attention. Instead, as a teenager, I called them GOD.AWFUL.BORING and moved to something else.”

    You too, eh? Thanks for the list. In light of the rather disturbing conversation I had at the museum the other day (that I touched on in today’s blog entry); I think I’m going to drop as many of those titles as possible into casual conversation. I’m evil like that.