Believe it or not, more than fifty years after it was first published and the era that ushered in the Civil Rights Movement, To Kill A Mockingbird is still among the top ten books banned or censored in libraries.
People, mostly parents, have apparently asked for the book to be removed because it’s full of racism and bad language. Similar requests have been made about Mark Twain’s great Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
If we continue to ban material that “might” be deemed offensive to “anyone” then it won’t be long before we raise a generation that is completely ignorant.
I find it fascinating that the book banners are, generally speaking, from the same ilk as the folk constantly screaming about their freedom of speech or their right to bear arms. There is no reason to ban any book. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. If you don’t want your children reading it for any reason, don’t let them read it. Also? Good luck with that. Make sure you tell them exactly which books you don’t want them to read, that’s always a good tactic.
Another thought on the racism in To Kill A Mockingbird: we put dozens of “classic” books in front of children every day that describe the terrible conditions of women in the past and no one talks about banning them. Is there a difference between literature that exposes racial hatred versus misogyny?
Something to think about.
Each year, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top ten most frequently challenged books in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools.
According to ALA.org, “a challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. The number of challenges reflects only incidents reported. We estimate that for every reported challenge, four or five remain unreported. Therefore, we do not claim comprehensiveness in recording challenges.”
Here are the top ten books that made the list of most challenged books from 2000-2011:
ttyl (series) by Lauren Myracle 1 of 10This young adult series is a repeat offender. People requested the books be removed from the library due to the following reasons: nudity, sexually explicit material, offensive language, being unsuited to the target age group, and drugs. Or, in other words, as flashlightworthybooks.com reports, "it reads just like any supermarket tabloid or WB television show."
The Color of Earth (series) by Kim Dong Hwa 2 of 10Amazon describes this book as "Ehwa grows up helping her widowed mother run the local tavern, watching as their customers both neighbors and strangers look down on her mother for her single lifestyle. Their social status isolates Ehwa and her mother from the rest of the people in their quiet country village. But as she gets older and sees her mother fall in love again, Ehwa slowly begins to open up to the possibility of love in her life". The book is challenged because of "nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group." God forbid we give the millions of children (like myself) of single mothers someone to identify with. Also? Don't let your children read about nudity, just let them watch it everywhere on the planet instead.
The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins 3 of 10Reasons given for challenging this book include anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence.
My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler 4 of 10Oh for hellsakes! People apparently weren't thrilled with all the sex and nudity that's involved with giving birth. Oh, and it's unsuitable for the age group it was apparently written for. Doesn't the cover just make you sick!? OFF SHELVES!
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie 5 of 10We should never talk about racism, according to the people who want this book 86ed from their local library. Just pretend it never happened, I guess? Other reasons given for challenging this award-winning novel for young adults: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group. According to Wikipedia "The novel is controversial for some of its content on issues such as alcohol, poverty, bullying, references to masturbation and physical arousal, as well as for the tragic deaths of characters and the use of profanity. As a result, some schools have banned the book from school libraries ." Bullying, masturbation, poverty - sounds like the top stories of my teenage years and something I absolutely want my future teen to read.
Alice (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor 6 of 10This series follows the main character, Alice McKinley, known as "Al" to her father and older brother as she grows up in Silver Spring, Maryland. Her mother died of leukemia when Alice was five. Alice has a hard time at first growing up in an all-male household, but her father and her brother, Lester, prove to be honest and open about almost everything Alice talks about. But NUDITY, people! Forget an elementary student dealing with her mother's tragic death, there is offensive language and a religious viewpoint. BANNED.
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley 7 of 10In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Brave New World fifth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. People want it gone from shelves because of " insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit." Dude. If your kid even WANTS to read this book instead of playing video games consider yourself a success.
What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones 8 of 10This free verse novel follows ninth-grader Sophie Stein as she struggles through the daily grind of being a freshman in high school, her romantic crushes and family life. What? SCANDALOUS. GET IT OFF SHELVES! Nudity. Offensive language. Sexually explicit! Because no freshman deals with that stuff in everyday life, right?
Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar 9 of 10Again, do you think your kids aren't seeing this stuff in their daily life? Also, if they want to read the book, they'll read the book. Or watch the WB. Reasons people want this one gone include drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee 10 of 10Folks wanted this classic out of their local libraries because of all the "racism and offensive language as well as being unsuited to the age group to which it's targeted." Um? The racism is kind of the point. Also? If we're banning books for racism maybe we should just go ahead and get rid of the bible for violence. I mean, didn't a dude try to kill his kid in that one until God said KIDDING! I was just testing! I don't like that God character, he sounds kind of mean-spirited.
See also: 25 Must-Read Books For Kids
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