Saturday, April 25, 2009

Controversy: Book Banning

So I've noticed that the posts that really bring out one of the things I was really hoping to accomplish with this blog--namely, good and thought-provoking conversation--are those posts that have ... well, arguable points, such as my rantings on Twilight or on a recent death penalty case in New Hampshire.

Therefore, I figured I'd throw out there a topic near and dear to my heart: book banning. Whoa, I think that came out wrong ... I don't think any books should be banned. Ever. My philosophy is that, if a child is reading a book, it is never, never, NEVER a bad thing.

But consider, for example, this outcry in my home state over Lois Lowry's The Giver. Having read The Giver (and recommended it to countless students), the idea that it would be deemed inappropriate when it is one of the prime children's books for getting emerging readers to think on a different plane ... I just don't get it. Of course, I'm the person who read Stephen King's Cujo as a first-grader, so maybe I'm a little warped on the subject : )

J.K. Rowling's brilliant Harry Potter series have been perhaps the most commonly criticized books in recent years (although again, I would argue even further this time that not only children learned that reading can be something magical, many adults that actively deplored reading developed a passion for it because of J.K. Rowling). The boy wizard controversy is well-documented on sites such as this and this.

The list of banned books is expansive and includes such remarkable titles as The Catcher in the Rye, Are you There God? It's Me, Margaret, Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, and--yes, I'm serious--Where's Waldo?

So what are your thoughts on banned books? Am I naive in my belief that it's always a good thing if someone is willing to invest the time in a book and therefore go through the requisite thinking--sometimes completely unaware of this?