It’s Time To Read A Banned Book!

It’s Time To Read A Banned Book!

banned-books-week

There’s something you don’t know about me: I love to read banned books.  You know, those books that you were sure if you mother caught you reading them, you would be punished for the rest of your life?   Once, while sitting in the hallways of my ultra-liberal-but-still parochial-private school (Quaker), I was busted by my English teacher for reading “Emerald Ecstasy,” a fantastic, uber-romantic and sexy “pirate” book. Rather than being upset that I was reading such smut, she simply stated that she was really disappointed that I was “consuming such poorly written prose.”  Like I said, I went to a private school.

Ok, “Emerald Ecstasy” probably would be listed as “banned” for its sexual content if it was a good book, which it is not.  So I doubt that the American Library Association (ALA) would include it in its annual celebration of the freedom to read.  This week,  all over the country, libraries and bookstores are highlighting censorship by displaying books that are challenged and/or banned, and hosting events about the issue.  It’s hard to believe that over 11,300 books have been challenged in libraries and schools since 1982, when the annual celebration began.

In honor of this week and, in my opinion, the inherent right to read whatever one wants to without being censored, here’s just a short list of my favorite titles, their authors and the reasons that they were banned:

  • Bridge to Terribitha, Katherine Peterson

Reasons: Offensive language, use of the word “Lord.”

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

  • Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher

Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group–An AMAZING book for teens to read!

  • The Giver, by Lois Lowry

Reasons: Lewd, twisted, sexually explicit, suicide, euthanasia

  • The Witches, by Roald Dahl

Reasons: Witchcraft

  • To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Reasons: Now here’s a new oneUse of the word “nigger,” offensive to African Americans, profanity, adult themes

  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green.

Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

  • Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park

Reasons: Grammer!

  • The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling

Reasons: Witchcraft, Magic

  • The Outsiders, by SE Hinton

Reasons: Violence, language (and simply one of the best books ever written)

After reading the list of titles and the reasons that specific books have been banned, I was left with the same question posed by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America:

Which kills more children: the book or the gun?

Which kills more children: the book or the gun?

Bottom line: Get reading folks!  We have a lot of books to read this week.  In honor of Banned Books Week, Lulu and I are reading “The Giver.”  I’m excited to introduce her to one of my favorite novels from pre-adolescence.

Want more information on banned books and what you can do to prevent books from being banned in your community?  Check out the following sites: 

fREADom

Diary of A Wimpy Kid Rolls Into A Windy City Momma’s House

Diary of A Wimpy Kid Rolls Into A Windy City Momma’s House

That’s ME! I’m A WIMPY KID!

Greg Heffley and the Diary of A Wimpy Kid books invaded our house a few years ago and haven’t left.  Not just because my daughter is a HUGE fan of the series (which she is) but  simply because I LOVE the main character, Greg Heffley:

Greg is lazy, selfish and seldom shows any remorse for his wrongdoings. He is totally oblivious to his own character foibles and considers himself basically flawless in personality as opposed to those around him, albeit he does not always treat his family, friends, and schoolmates respectfully, particularly his best friend, Rowley Jefferson…

Greg’s sort of a “middle-school everyman” who faces the kinds of problems we’ve all encountered, like how to ask someone out on a date or addressing Mr. Jefferson as “the driver” because Greg wants to seem more impressive to his “date” than he really is.  As a once middle school student who could have also been described as “self-absorbed and somewhat clueless,” I recognize a kindred spirit and have been a Diary of a Wimpy Kid fan since the author, Jeff Kinney, was interviewed on Terry Gross’ show “Fresh Air” a few years ago for The Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days.

The books are targeted towards middle school readers but in actuality appeal to just about anyone (sort of like the Harry Potter series). But unlike the Potter phenomena, Jeff Kinney’s books are really funny — the kind of funny where you have to take a break from reading because you’re laughing so hard that you are actually “snorting” to the point when tears and snot are running down your face, and you feel like you could actually throw up from laughing so hard.

To some adults, the books can be construed as stories in cartoon form: “graphic novels.”  So it’s natural that the Wimpy Kid books have drawn criticism from some teachers who would prefer that their students veer away from “picture books.”  From my perspective on the parental “slippery slope,” despite the (incredibly funny) cartoons, I still give the books a HUGE thumbs up!  My daughter’s READING for goodness sake!

So you could imagine how psyched my family was when we found out that not only were K, Adam and I  going  TO MEET one of our LITERARY and COMIC HEROS, JEFF KINNEY, but that we would also get 30 uninterrupted minutes for K to speak with him during his most recent book tour for the latest, and funniest, Diary of A Wimpy Kid book yet: The Diary of A Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel!  And we were able to video taped the interview for you!  (Did I yell that loud enough?)

My brilliant husband (how often do I refer to him like that?) suggested that K alert her 4th grade class that she was interviewing a famous author and ask that it pull together a list of AWESOME questions for K to ask him.

I think that it was one of the best discussions Jeff had all day!  Click on the link to see her great interview:

 

Amazing right?  K was able to ask all of her classmates questions and judging from the look of things, it appeared that Jeff Kinney was impressed with her professionalism and the caliber of the questions she asked him.

The latest installment of the Diary of A Wimpy Kid book came out in November and if you haven’t had a chance to read it (or any of the books), I absolutely encourage you to pick one up IMMEDIATELY.  I actually laughed out loud at some of the jokes.  And, sadly, I could relate to some of the (self made) messes that Greg creates for himself.  Also, check out the movies which were created based on the series’ characters.  We purchased them as soon as they came out on DVD and have enjoyed Greg’s and his friends adventures many times.  They make for great family night movie viewing.

The Third Wheel Bus

P.S.  Did I mention that the series makes a great holiday gift for your favorite 4th + grader?  Between the Sh*tty Moms Books for my sisters and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books for my younger nephews, I may already have my Holiday shopping done for the year! Of course,  all of these books, DVDs and, yes, games can be found on Amazon.com.

Finally, as Meredith Sinclair, one of the funniest and a most awesome moms and women around, puts it:

“Disclaimer: NONE of these brands, shops, sites, or products have paid me a red cent to promote them.  Nope, not one.”