Contents of blog copyright Book Dragon's Lair 2009-2023
I've been gone a while. I started reading fanfiction to escape and I got sucked in an abyss.

I have no idea if someone else is hosting similar challenges. I just grabbed some of what I have hosted before.

Here's to a happy year of great reading
Jan2023: Not much has changed. Writing a fanfiction now O_o as well as reading but I bought 7 new books in December and hope to get those read soon. Crossing fingers about adding challenges (late!)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bookbanning in America: Who & Why

A California school district removes the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary from Shelves. A child (bored?) came across the definition of "oral sex" in the dictionary which prompted a parent complaint and instead of purchasing the children's version of the dictionary for the elementary schools, "is forming a committee of principals, teachers and parents to pore over the book and determine whether it's fit for young eyes. It could take a while: the unabridged edition available online contains over 470,000 entries."

Some good news.... a banned book is being returned to the shelves! Mark Twain wrote a book in 1905 titled Eve's Diary. It was banned because trustee Frank Wakefield objected to nude illustrations of Eve. The Charlton Public Library's trustees this week unanimously voted to return the book to circulation, reversing the board's 1906 decision.

If you're gay and don't want to be...good luck finding a book to help you. A Chicago-based group says they can't give away their books on homosexuality can be "reversed".

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression has a page of stories behind some past book bans and challenges, here

An interesting resource is banned books project.

Powell's Books invites you to celebrate your freedom to read with a great list broken down by category....Children's Books, Young Adult, Parenting, etc.

edit: Another great link is Bonnie's blog Banned Books

Title: Bookbanning in America: Who bans books? And Why?
author: William Noble

publisher: Paul S. Eriksson
ISBN: 9780839710806
349 pages
categories: Literary Studies: General, Ethical Issues: Censorship, Politics & Government, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Speech

Censorship has bedeviled free expression in the United States from the time of the Pilgrims. This book reveals how and why it happens, in spite of the First Amendment. Through dramatisation, anecdotes, interviews and actual trial transcripts, it shows how censorship affects politics, religion, social status, education and publishing.

Yikes! It was an extremely scary read. It really is easy to have a book banned. My eyes have been opened to who and I've discovered that the state with the highest recorded challenges is....California. What? My bias is showing because I thought it would be a more poor, less-educated state. Dang. It really does take all kinds and I ashamed of my bias. I think the worse thing is that my librarian didn't know this kind of thing was still going on.

My take on chapter one with lots of quotes and commentary

What do you do if your child comes home from school with an assigned book that they are uncomfortable reading? I would go to the school and ask if there was an alternative. This is exactly what LaDone Hills did and after sending a written request to the teacher, an alternative books was assigned. That should have been the end of the matter but Ms. Hills did something else. She felt concern for other students and "began to pursue a way to get such materials removed from our educational program."

Notice that she has already taken care of her own child but still feels it is her right to take care of ours!

At a school board meeting the question is asked, "Are there any other items?" This question is asked at the end of a meeting where people where hoping to get home early and should have been a formality before closing the meeting. Not so in this case. Mr. Shelton "was the most unpredictable of all the board members because he operated more independently. He was not noted for origination action, but he had the capacity for dominating the plan or agenda of someone else. His education was limited, though he was skilled in his work with heavy machinery. Everyone knew his general nature could be frosty and uncompromising."

Mr. Shelton wanted to know why this book was being taught at the high school. "I looked through some of it, and it would not be acceptable to most of you."

Wait a minute? Looked through some of it? You mean you haven't read it?

Passages were read and a vote was taken. Never mind that the principal of the school in question reminded everyone that there were procedures in place, the school board skipped all that and, against the advice of their attorney, voted to have the book removed from the school district.

Forty percent of county residences are represented by a single committee, The Graves County Baptist Association. It didn't take long for this committee of 82 to take action, after all "it was a moral issue". They had a member write a letter, on association letterhead, in SUPPORT of the banning.

At least the man read the book! Too bad he found it "dull, uninteresting, hardly representative of what a Nobel Prize winner should write." That's right. Nobel. Prize. Winner.

The phrase "all hell breaks loose" should fit what happens in this county quite well. People are outraged that the banning took place. People are supportive of the board. Teachers feel they they have been thrown to the wolves. The ACLU gets involved.

There is a happy ending in that the banning was rescinded but still. It should have been a simple "my child is uncomfortable reading this book, may another be assigned". The whole lesson was supposed to be on stream-of-conciousness writing and this was the best example.

Oh, I never did mention the book did I? As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. I didn't see it on ALA's Top 100 list for 1990-1999 or 2000-2009 but it was #19 on the banned and/or challenged classics list.

copyright Book Dragon's Lair 2009-2011


Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Awesome post Gina. I did not know about the Mark Twain book... that is interesting.

Helen's Book Blog said...

I am doing a whole display and readings in my school library this week for Banned Book Week. The students get really into the discussions, which is great!

Chris said...

Thanks! At first I thought the book was a how-to on how to get things banned. I'm sure there are those as well.


In accordance to the FTC guidelines, I must state that I make no monetary gains from my reviews or endorsements here on Book Dragon's Lair. All books I review are either borrowed, purchased by me, given as a gift, won in some kind of contest, or received in exchange for an honest review.