This week is Banned Books Week, a week devoted to celebrating the freedom to read! If you think that banned books have nothing to do with children’s books, then it might surprise you to learn about some of the seemingly innocent children’s books that have been banned at various times and places over the years. Do any of the banned books below catch you by surprise?
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss - Banned in Laytonville, CA Unified School District 1989 because some believed it “criminalized the forest industry”.
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak – This book ranked 25th on “100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000″ according to the American Library Association. Reason: Nudity.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl - This is another book that is frequently banned. Some of the reasons given are that it contains inappropriate language, encourages disobedience to parents, has magical elements, and is too scary.
Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein - the first was pulled from the shelves at West Allis-West Milwaukee, Wisconsin school libraries (1986) because the book “suggests drug use, the occult, suicide, death, violence, disrespect for truth, disrespect for legitimate authority, rebellion against parents.” The second was banned in Beloit, Wisconsin in 1985 because the poem How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes supposedly encouraged children to break things to get out of doing chores.
Charlotte’s Web, Winnie the Pooh, and Alice in Wonderland are only some of the books that have been banned at various times and places in the U.S. because they have talking animals. That’s right, animals who walk and talk and wear clothing are thought by some school districts and library associations to be “blasphemous and unnatural”.
As a mom, I understand every parent’s ongoing struggle to protect their children from mature or inappropriate content–whether it be in books, TV and movies, or on the web. I believe, however, that there is a difference between parental discernment and public censorship.
In the end, the best thing we can do for our children is to be active in their reading lives. Talk to them about what books they read, suggest stories we may have enjoyed as children, and most of all, read with our kids.
If you’re looking for new and exciting reading material, we have some wonderful new books in the Reading Rainbow App this week to share with your kids, including Miss Martin is a Martian, Sick Day, and Can I Bring My Pterodactyl to School, Ms. Johnson? May your day and weekend be filled with wonderful family reading!
Happy Banned Books Week, and Happy Reading!