Banned Books Chosen By Readers Of This Blog

A huge Thank You to everyone who offered a suggestion. I was very pleased with all the responses I received. Many people seemed shocked to learn that books they’ve read as school assignments have been the target of censorship campaigns. Others expressed incredulity upon learning that a particular book they’ve read and know to be inoffensive has been targeted. As techfun pointed out in a discussion at Blog Catalog, during the 1990’s many far right wing organizations worked to elect their members to school boards for the specific purpose of revising curricula to remove materials they find offensive. This is one of the main reasons for the censorship campaigns against these books. Without further ado, here are your favorite banned books:

Something Of Value is a 1954 novel by Robert Ruark about a Mau Mau uprising in Kenya in the early 1950’s. This title was suggested by my good friend Ron, who remembers defying the librum prohibitorum at his school to read it . He also says the book frightened him. I was unable to locate any specific information about censorship against this title but I did find it listed in Worldcat and available for sale from Powell’s so I decided to include it. (Note that this 75 cent cover priced paper back is now old and rare and rather pricey.)

Techfun, who has been an invaluable information resource on this topic recently blogged about the ten most frequently challenged books of the past year. Number one on that list is And Tango Makes Three. Based on a true story about two male penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo who nurtured an egg laid by a female penguin and hatch and successfully raise a healthy new chick the zoo keepers named Tango. This beautifully illustrated children’s book teaches children that it’s okay to be in or know someone who has an alternative family.

Jungl from Norway who’s blog features incredible photographs of that country’s beauty suggested The Song of the Red Ruby (Worldcat) by Agnar Mykle. Unfortunately, I was not able to find a book cover for this title. Upon its publication in 1957 this book ignited one of Norway’s most famous court cases in history when the author and publisher were accused of disseminating obscene and immoral materials.

Bev suggested Judy Blume’s Blubber a novel about bullying among junior high school girls. rockstories recommended Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the infamous novel about book burning and perhaps the most appropriate choice possible for a discussion on censorship.

Well here you are,
Just as you ordered,

Broiled face with butter sauce,
Mashed potatoes on the side.
What do you mean you wanted me fried?

Shel Silverstein was a gifted artist and poet who’s whimsical and fantastic poems and and simple but very clever line drawing illustrations have delighted generations of children and adults alike. A Light In The Attic has been banned from some libraries for its attitude towards child behavior (at times encouraging messiness and disobedience). People claim that it “encourages” children to break dishes in order to get out of having to dry them. One of the reasons this book was banned was its mention of pirates. Also, one of the verses describes the death of a girl after her parents refused to buy her a pony. She became so sad that she withered away and died, causing her parents to regret not buying her the pony—some people thought that it was considering or recommending children to commit suicide. Credit for recommending “Uncle Shelby” goes to golfwidow.

Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain was steamboat captain, humorist
, essayist and novelist widely regarded as one of the greatest American authors in history. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the story of a young boy in antebellum Missouri who leaves home in the company of a runaway slave named Jim and sets off on a raft down the Mississippi River. While the novel has sparked controversy almost from the day of its first publication, it was especially targeted for censorship by critics who argued that the book’s frequent and historically accurate use of the word “nigger” made the entire novel racist. The irony being that the novel speaks out so clearly against racism and slavery in relating the tale of a boy who helps a slave escape. Thanks to firerobin for suggesting this one.

And finally, thanks once again to Bev for her suggestion of Ken Follett‘s The Pillars of the Earth. Follett, a well known author of thrillers surprised his readers in 1989 with this historical novel about in 12th century England. The book includes explicit sexuality and a rape scene and was banned by a Kansas library in 1994.

Have you read a banned book yet this week? Please comment and share what you have read or your favorite banned book. I have a few more titles that did not make it into toady’s post and will feature any other suggestions I receive later in the week. Thank you again for exercising your right to Read Freely.

Additional resources:

American Library Association’s Banned Books Page
History Survey: Banned Books Week
I Love Libraries Find a Banned Books Week Event
Wikiepedia’s List of Banned Books
Bev’s Blog Read a Banned Book