I'm not sure what masochistic impulse led me to check out a copy of Banned in the USA: A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries. The "parent shelf" in the youth department is cleverly situated right next to a floor-to-ceiling world map that has buttons you can press to light up various countries and regions. The buttons, of course, are a small-child magnet. I've never seen anyone use the map who was actually old enough to understand its purpose.

So, anyway, Temptestuous Toddler gleefully pressed the buttons while I browsed the parent shelf and came across this doggie-downer of a book. It gives a pretty good overview of the topic, including (these are chapter titles) A Survey of Major Bookbanning Incidents; The Law on Bookbanning; Voices of Banned Authors (Judy Blume, Robert Cormier, etc.); and The Most Frequently Banned Books of the 1990s (including plot synopses and summaries of the banning attempts).

This book hooked me in like a mass of maggots. It's totally revolting, but I can't tear myself away.

Listen to this quote regarding Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, by Alvin Schwartz: "The parent rejected the option of noting on her child's library file those books that her child was not allowed to read, insisting that no other child be allowed to read them either."

And this parental objection to A Wrinkle in Time: among other things, it "encourages one to believe in make-believe." Huh?

I was especially interested in what they said about How to Eat Fried Worms, which was required reading for Joey last year. Heh, heh, turns out that it contains the phrase "enormous pigeon-breasted middle-age woman."

I'm wishing I'd found this book a month or two ago, because I would have had some great gift ideas for Joey. I'm sure he'd love those Scary Stories, not to mention Eve Merriam's Halloween ABC and Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes. It gives me some measure of satisfaction to view the list of banned books as recommendations.


  • It's truly amazing what some people complain about and what they deem as ban-worthy. That actually sounds like a very intriguing book. As one who works in a library, I always want to track down the books that some say are questionable just to see what the fuss is about!

    posted by Blogger donna y on 6:24 PM  

  • I haven't been able to stop arbitrarily saying the F-word since reading it in Catcher In The Rye sophomore year of high school. That darn book has tarnished my vocabulary! Oh F_ _K! What's the point in talking about this now...

    And that darn Judy Blume...who did she think she was writing about scorned friends, secret crushes, PMS, and boobs? I think female teenagers should be kept in the dark about all of this stuff so they feel isolated and sullen. Moreover, Judy Blume has a sense of humor. That's anarchistic, isn't it??

    Well, I don't even want to mention S.E. Hinton. THE OUTSIDERS should have been banned as soon as they cast Tom Cruise in the movie. Moreover, who would let their kids hang out with someone named 'Pony Boy'??

    All of these books and more should be banned. It's just ridiculous poison for the kids' brains. Kids should be able to play shoot-em up video games and hang out on the street corners shooting spit balls at the adults. Books are for intellectual commie's...let's just ban them all!!

    (By the way, I hope this sardonic comment is taken as sarcasm...and not realism!) ;)

    posted by Blogger Bhakti on 10:57 PM  

  • As you will have read by my most recent typoed comments above, my dexterity is impaired. I could write a book on censorship and book banning. I totall understand the magnetism of needing to read such a book! Great simile, btw.

    I've seen A Wrinkle in Time on other banned lists. It's one of my all time favorite books from late childhood.

    posted by Blogger Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) on 11:42 PM  

  • We are reading The Giver at school in a couple of weeks, prior to going to see the play. We've already started getting complaints from parents who think it's "creepy" and wonder why we can't read something more uplifting.

    The other novel we read? The Outsiders.

    posted by Anonymous Laura on 11:53 PM  

  • Oh man, THE OUTSIDERS was one of my favorite books that I read in fifth grade. I teach fourth grade now, and I'm not allowed to tell the students about it. Our school library won't carry it either.

    They say it promotes gangs, I always thought it promoted friendship and rising above adversity. Oh well.

    posted by Blogger Bhakti on 8:48 PM  

  • I'm proud to say all but the Halloween ABC are books my son has read or had read to him in his first eight years.

    Do tell what we should aim for in the next eight?

    And I have to say, like you, book banning revolts me. That and prohibitions on same sex marriage get my blood boiling faster than just about anything else I can think of.

    posted by Blogger doulicia on 12:25 PM  

  • When I was in elementary school I got pretty lucky, there were no book banning meetings, but there was one book in the school library that required a parent's note of permission to check out because it had graphic photos of hamsters being born.

    One of my high school English teachers, however, wanted the class to read The Color Purple, but was not allowed to assign it so had to surreptitiously suggest to us that we go read it on our own.

    posted by Blogger Stefanie on 7:43 PM  

  • I love that you're choosing books for your son from the banned books list. Nicely subversive! I'm endlessly astonished at the books people seek to ban and the reasons they seek to ban them. They seem to be exceptionally adroit at taking things out of context.

    posted by Blogger Kate S. on 10:01 AM  

  • LOL...choosing books from the banned list. You're such a rebel.

    Sounds like a great idea!

    posted by Blogger Adrienne on 6:14 PM