I’ll be honest. I originally decided to do a segment on Banned Books Week because I was fishing around for a last minute show idea. I thought, “Oh, this will be interesting. We can talk about all the great classics that were once banned!”
Basically, I equated the practice of banning books with history. As in, that doesn’t happen anymore.
Oh boy, was I wrong.
Do you know the federal government is banning some books in prisons? Or that books about gay penguins are being challenged in libraries across the country? I remember a series of books I loved when I was a preteen. It was a series about a girl named Alice and her two best friends by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I loved this series. The main character was wondering all the same things I was, feeling all the same things I did, was perplexed by everything I was perplexed by. It felt like having a friend. It made me feel less alone, and safe. I was looking at the list of the 10 most challenged books of 2006, and the Alice series is STILL on it! The books started being written in the 80’s!
Now on the other hand, I was in a bookstore last week and I went into the young adult section and I have to admit, I was pretty horrified. Some of the titles and covers were shockingly grownup and seemed to encourage girls to subscribe to a mindset where pretty, popular, sexy, and sophisticated is all that matters. I grabbed one of the books from the Gossip Girl series and leafed through it. Scotch, sex, smoking. All of these things were discussed casually or actually occurred in the first 10 pages of this book. I certainly don’t think I would want my (nonexistent) daughter reading this book.
But I guess I feel like that is a choice I as a parent should make. Not the government. What do you think? Did you realize we lived in a world where Toni Morrison still has two books on the most challenged list?