Saturday, September 27, 2008

Banned Book Week Starts Today

The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2007” reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:
1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence
3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin HenkesReasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language
4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman Reasons: Religious Viewpoint (I have read and enjoyed this book)
5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain Reasons: Racism (I have read and enjoyed this book)
6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language
7) "TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
8) "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou Reasons: Sexually Explicit (I have read this book)
9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit
10) "The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Off the list this year, are two books by author Toni Morrison. "The Bluest Eye" and "Beloved," both challenged for sexual content and offensive language.

The most frequently challenged authors of 2007
1) Robert Cormier
2) Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
3) Mark Twain (favourite author)
4) Toni Morrison
5) Philip Pullman (enjoy this author)
6) Kevin Henkes
7) Lois Lowry
8) Chris Crutcher
9) Lauren Myracle
10) Joann Sfar

I challenge you to read one of the books on the list.


  1. I very much appreciate the freedom to read; however I personally will decline your challenge.

    Most of them simply are not of interest to my family. Philip Pullman's books are offensive to me because of how they deride my Catholic faith.

    You may enjoy these books if you are not Catholic. Yet consider if you would read books that were as offensive to another group as Pullman's are to Catholics. The level of hatred far exceeds that of Twain's portrayal of racism.

    I will not tell you what to read or even what to enjoy; I am in solidarity with you in that regard.

    Thanks for all your interesting writing. I look forward to more.

  2. I'm always amazed at what books are included on the ALA lists. I'm reading "The Great Gilly Hopkins" this week because I was curious as to why it's on the frequently challenged lists of that past twenty years. I had fun teaching Huck Finn last year to my AM Lit class during Banned Books Week. They didn't love the book necessarily, but they loved that they were reading a banned book. ;-)

  3. Ahhhh one of the secrets to getting kids to read something tell them it's banned or forbid them to read it.

  4. Kris, I didn't see any 'hatred' of Catholics in Pullman's books. I guess it all depends on your knowledge of the Catholic Church. To me he was referring to any "group" that was willing to go to any lengths to suppress something.

  5. You are right--unless you know and understand the Magisterium, which is the teaching body of the Catholic Church and unique to our faith, you would not know just how anti-Catholic his books are.

    Its anti-Christian bias in general is easily apparent. The "dust" in his book is clearly sin in that it was brought into the world by Adam and Eve. To Christians his book gives the message that we should embrace sin in order to destroy the Church.

    I am not sure even atheists would want to embrace such a message when they think about the full scope of what sin is. Without a religious understanding, though, that message would go unnoticed by them.

    Like anything, it depends on your viewpoint. I see the Catholic Church as trying to lead as many people to Christ's eternal salvation as possible because it is a powerful message love and mercy.

    Others call it suppression because the Church is willing to clearly state right and wrong. They also only look at the Church's mistakes to characterize it rather than its entire 2000+ year history, especially the modern era.

    My feeling is if you are an atheist, write a book about how great atheism is rather than about your hatred of the Catholic Church. Atheists risk creating a philosophy based on what it is not and what it hates rather than having any core principles of its own.

    O.K. so that was probably more than you wanted to know, LOL.

    I realize that just because people read and enjoy Pullman does not make them "Catholic haters." Perhaps people can consider the value of a book, though, that contains that much hatred towards any group.

  6. Actually I didn't see any hatred in the books.

    In the end the children set God free from his prison and defeated the 'angel'(devil) who had imprisoned him. And they survived to do this because their parents loved them enough to die for them.

    It's funny I see the books being about LOVE and you see them as being about hatred.

  7. I draw that conclusion from Pullman himself. He stated that he hates organized religion because it is oppressive, and that these books reflect that.

    So it is a personal rant couched in great fantasy, and I am the target. Organized religion is not a thing; it is people. Deriding it derides people, about 84% of the world.

    Would we allow such rancor against other whole groups of people? We have seen similar strong negative opinions about homeschoolers.

    Hmm, what if the bad guys were homeschoolers, and in the end the kids set Knowledge free from the wicked parents imprisoning it because the kids' teachers loved them enough to die for them?

  8. Kris,
    Have you actually read all three of the books?

    The reason I asked was you said
    The "dust" in his book is clearly sin in that it was brought into the world by Adam and Eve.

    Actually it turned out the dust were angels. In book three they even learned how to communicate with them.

    You may find this interesting

  9. Ugh...The Boston Globe is from my neck of the woods. The relationship between it and the Catholic Church is very poor because of articles like this.

    To get into why Liberation and Feminist Theology are so way out of line with what Christ taught, and therefor rejected by the Catholic Church, is far beyond our discussion.

    Suffice it to say that faithful Catholics (as opposed to liberal "Catholics" like the writer of the article) believe, based on extensive Biblical evidence, that Christ established the Pope and Magisterium in order to protect and propegate His teachings as He intended them.

    Whether you agree with this or not is beside the point. I only want to point out that in my eyes, ridiculing the Magisterium is ridiculing Christ Himself, and that is why faithful Catholics are so offended.

    Thank you so much for engaging me in this civil discussion. This is why I like your blog and others around it even though my views sometime differ. Few places can an exchange like this take place in such an unheated way!

  10. You are very welcome.

    I enjoy learning about different things. Until Pullman's books became such a hot topic I had never heard of the Magisterium. I appreciate your sharing more about it.


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