Midweek @ Musings: Read a Banned Book! Worship the Devil! Same thing, right?

The blogosphere is all abuzz about Banned Books Week.  I’d like to say I’m reading a banned book now, but this all kind of snuck up on me and I didn’t have my act together.  But I’ve enjoyed reading some great posts.  Marie at Boston Bibliophile reviewed two banned books: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, and A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. And then Florinda at The 3R’s Blog, and Wendy at Musings of a Bookish Kitty, both shared their point of view and listed several banned or challenged books they’ve read.  This got me thinking about my experience with banned or challenged books.

My first encounter with this phenomenon occurred ten years ago.  A certain person who shall remain nameless sent an email, warning us that our 7-year-old daughter should under no circumstances be allowed to read the Harry Potter books.  The email message included the full text of a news article claiming the Harry Potter series was turning children to devil worship.  What this person didn’t realize was that the article came from The Onion, a satirical news site.  Our first response was uproarious laughter.  But then we became incensed.  Judging by the “Fw: fw: fw: fw: fw: …” in the subject line, this email had spread its malicious point of view all over cyberspace.  This was a classic example of the hysteria that often leads to a book being challenged or banned.

Wendy said it so well, I just have to repeat it:

I do believe in a parent’s right to guide his or her children in choosing appropriate reading material when necessary; I think it’s smart parenting to know what your children are reading, listening to, watching, and playing. However, what I do not get behind is when someone or a group of people decide that no one should be allowed to read a particular book. And so they challenge it and request it be banned. Often books are challenged because they raise viewpoints that differ from someone else’s. Or perhaps they touch upon subject matter that the person finds offensive or uncomfortable. I respect a person’s right to have his or her own opinion about any book. I truly do. But do not tell me what I should and should not read, or anyone else for that matter.

Naturally we ignored the email and continued to encourage our daughter’s reading, including the Harry Potter series.  J.K. Rowling turned out to be one of two authors (the other being Jane Austen) who inspired my daughter to become a writer.

The American Library Association has published the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2009, along with a List of Banned and/or Challenged Classics.  You’ve probably read many of these books.  Why not read another?

Oh, and if you need a good laugh, here’s that article from The Onion.  Imagine anyone thinking it was true !

Harry Potter Books Spark Rise In Satanism Among Children

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6 thoughts on “Midweek @ Musings: Read a Banned Book! Worship the Devil! Same thing, right?

  1. I always feel so sad when I heard about the idea of Devil worship in Harry Potter. But there are large areas in the Netherlands that still think HP advocates that, or witchcraft (which is, of course, an instrument of the Devil). I never understood that, since if any of these people would actually take the time to read the Harry Potter books, they’d notice that many christian (or well, human values I would say) are promoted in those books.

  2. The first banned book I ever read was a hot copy (passed around through friends) of Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence when I was about 15. When questioned about it by my dad, I told him there was more sex in the historical novels he brought home from the public library than in LCL and that the sex in LCL was more loving than some of the stuff I’d read in his books. Happily, my parents always let me read what I wanted and to make my own decisions.

    You wonder at the narrowness of some people’s minds, don’t you, when they can interpret a series of books where the hero(es) spend seven books fighting against evil in its most malignant form, where those same heroes have values of kindness, fairness, tolerance, respect and compassion. If only those people knew how perfectly Rowland captured them in the Dursleys….

  3. The ALA list has added a couple to my TBR list for sure: thanks for posting the link to it. I’ve been obsessing over books for kids and teens a bit this fall and it’s interesting to see some overlap between this list of challenged titles and the lists of highly recommended books: obviously there is some fantastic writing on this list, the kind that gets fearful people’s knickers in small-minded twists. ::sigh::

  4. It is amazing how many times pages from those satirical sites get sent around as fact. I remember a national newspaper being very embarrassed after they accidentally picked up a ‘news’ story from one of those sites without realising it was all made up. It is all so sad.

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