Thursday, September 30, 2010

Annual Banned Book Blog

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Dr. Who is on in just three minutes, and it's my experience that if you miss the opening credits you won't have a clue what's happening in the rest of the show.

But how can we let Banned Books Week go past without nodding in its general direction?

Have you ever noticed that some of the most popular and widely-read books actually ought to be banned?

I jest, of course. One does wonder, however, what the world would be like without certain exclusionary religious tracts.

I don't think any book should be banned. I would have trouble taking a book from one of my students if it was titled A Beginner's Guide to Undetectable Incendiary Devices. Hey, the kid's reading! Reading, I tell you ... and a science book at that!

The whole banned book thing has been on my mind recently because our school has a daily free-read where students spend 15 minutes minimum reading a "personal choice" book. This year the school administration issued a new directive: all "personal choice" books must be from the school. Students cannot bring books from home.

I guess you can imagine why this might be. Give an adolescent kid a couple of bucks, send him/her to WalMart, and he/she's likely to pick up some salacious, sexy, smutty tome that celebrates the lavish lifestyle of playas in the hood. Bring that to school, everyone's gonna want to read it, yo.

So. Let them read it.

We have not yet come to an era when reading isn't important, but we have come to an era where it's not something that some people want to do. In my opinion, anything that these people decide to read should not be banned for content, language, sexually explicit situations, or poor moral values. If it's words on a page, and someone is interested in reading it, I say --- here's a bookmark!

Now I'm missing Dr. Who. But I'm not finished with this topic for the year.

I recently had to pry a book out of the hands of one of my students and turn it over to the vice principal. It was about a ruthless gangsta who decided that nothing was gonna get in the way of his getting his woman back, even though she was with another dude and even had a kid with that dude. So the gangsta flashes some bling at the girl, and she goes running back, but her new bro's also a billionaire, so she can't decide. For awhile she hooks up with both of them, but in the end her baby daddy fixes it so that the gangsta gets shot. And the girl doesn't really care, because it's all about the money.

Trash. Utter trash!

Except that this is the plot of The Great Gatsby, which I will be teaching in Honors class this year.

You'll never see me ban a book. The most troublesome book I've ever read is the Bible, and even that I would say we should keep ... with some judicious edits.


Lori F - MN said...

Maybe more kids would want to read The Great Gatsby if they heard it discribed like that!

Dj said...

was it The Great Gatsby that you had to pry out of the kids hands, or was it just some book the kid brought from home?

Blond and easily confused :P

Vivienne Grainger said...

Books should not be banned. Gotcha back on that one!
That said, I am awed at the amount of coherent, well-thought-out prose you can produce in three minutes!

Pom said...

And this is why Mini Me and I love her school's librarian. The moment she finds out that a book is on the banned list she orders several copies of it for the school library (if it wasn't already there). Banning books ticks her off and we're glad! Of course it's only a matter of time before the over-protective mother of one particular child gets involved but until then my daughter has access there and her place of employment (the local public library) to any and all books deemed inappropriate.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I read widely as an adolescent and my mom let me read anything I want, even when the public librarian would phone home and question my choices. Anything from Shakespeare to Ian Fleming to Mad Magazine was grist for my mill.

Lori F - MN said...

Maybe the Bible should have an NC17 rating, like an adult movie.
After all, it includes the breaking of all the 10 commandments.
Violence. Intensity. Language.

Lyn said...

I agree with you Anne - no book should be banned. I love to see my sons read (doesn't happen often enough) and I encourage that at every opportunity.

Hope you caught up with Dr. Who!

Jennifer said...

I love this post.

Maybe people would be more interested in reading Gatsby if it was written gangsta-style?

kimc said...

The most troublesome book I've ever read is the Bible, and even that I would say we should keep ... with some judicious edits.

WooHoo! Give us some examples of how you would edit the Bible!

Wasn't the point of The Great Gatsby how shallow and tragic the money-first attitude was?

Anne Johnson said...

kimc, I really think God should assign some seraphim or such to edit the Bible. It's a big task. I don't have time.

Witch Mom said...

Brilliant! I almost did a banned books week post as well, since I didn;t I'm glad you did. And you are funnier than me.

Lily, aka Witch Mom

Intense Guy said...

I agree with you Anne - no book should be banned.

A lot of books however ought to be judiciously vetted before "swallowed whole." and there IS a lot of rubbish and trash out there... thankfully no one makes you read (most of it once you're an adult).