Top Ten: Banned Books

Top 10

If you look on the Internet for a top ten list of banned books you’ll find about a thousand different lists with all different books on them. So here’s another one.

In no particular order, here is a list of ten of the most common books to be banned.

All the books on this list appear on more than one list of most commonly banned books and have been censored or banned in more than one year.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

1) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie

Several schools in various states in the U.S. have either tried to ban or successfully banned this book from school libraries due to the racism, alcohol/drug use, vulgar language, and sexually explicit content depicted in the book.


2) Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

I talk about this book a bit yesterday, but my research for this post found that there is a multitude of reasons this has been banned or censored. From sexually explicit language to offensive stereotypes to simply lacking literary merit, Huxley’s novel gets no free passes.

3) And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parrell

I talked about this book a lot last Banned Books Week and you can read that post here. This one gets challenged and censored often due to it’s depiction of homosexuality.

4) The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

Underage drinking/drug use, cursing, being sexually explicit, and homosexuality are the main reasons this book has been pulled from so many school libraries.

The Catcher in the Rye

5) The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

This book is the perfect example of what I said a few days ago. You ban a book and tell people they can’t read it and they’ll want to read it even more. With it’s constant challenge of authority and obscene language, The Catcher in the Rye has been called countless names and has even been accused of being the reason behind a few murders. It is constantly being removed from schools and yet it is still the second most taught book in schools. Ironic, isn’t it?


6) Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut

Seeing this book on so many banned books lists just makes me so much happier that I read it. Challenged and banned due to it’s crude language, sexuality, and violence, this book is often removed from school after parental and teacher complaints.

7) The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

Showing up on many lists for years, The Hunger Games has been banned due to being sexually explicit and for containing violence.

8) What My Mother Doesn’t Know, Sonya Sores

I’d never heard of this book before, but it kept showing up on the yearly censored books lists. It has been challenged in the U.S. due to sexually explicit content (what a shock) and sexism.

Scary Stories

9) Scary Stories Series, Alvin Schwartz

Banned due to it’s violent content as well as insensitivity and Satanism. They know the stories are fake, right?


10) Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey

Banned and censored because it’s sexually explicit (apparently) and contains offensive language (apparently).


You know what reasons showed up on almost every book? Not just these ten, but every book I saw on the websites I looked at. You know what the reasons are? ‘Sexually Explicit” and “Not suitable for age group”.

Can someone please explain to me what sexually explicit it? Cause I’ve read The Hunger Games, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Captain Underpants and I’m so confused as to how they fall into the same category.

Now, 50 Shades of Grey? That’s sexually explicit. Captain Underpants? Unless you’re read ’50 Shades of Underpants’ you’re going to have to tell me just how that’s sexually explicit.

And ‘unsuited to age group’? Come on people! The publisher obviously thought it was suited to the age group otherwise they wouldn’t have published it as such. And all the people who buy it and have no issue clearly think it’s suitable for the age group the books are aimed at.

If you think it’s unsuitable for your child, don’t read it to your child or don’t let your child read it. It’s 2015, stop banning books.

Have you read any of the books on this list?

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Twenty (More) Banned Books You Should Definitely Read

Banned Books

Last Banned Books Week I made a post about twenty banned books you should definitely read. Well this Banned Books Week I decided to give you twenty more.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , Mark Twain

Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain’s novel has faced controversy after controversy with a good majority of it having to do with the language used. From racial slurs to vulgar language, Huckleberry Finn has come under heavy scrutiny, particularly from parents who don’t want this book taught to their children in school.


American Psycho , Bret Easton Ellis
American Psycho

American Psycho faced heavy scrutiny (and still does) in many different countries. From the year 1995 to 2000, Ellis’s novel was considered to be “harmful to minors” in Germany, while Australia would not sell the book to anyone under age eighteen.


Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging , Louise Rennison

Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging

I actually had a hard time finding out why this book is considered controversial, but then I found a very long Yahoo Answers (I know it’s not the best source, but hey, this isn’t a college paper) post from someone complaining about how the book was pornographic and this person couldn’t believe schools would have it on their shelves.

Apparently there is some discussion in the book (I haven’t read it yet) about kissing and butt grabbing and kids in school shouldn’t be reading this kind of stuff because they’ll act it out. I desperately try not to give opinions on what I think of these controversies, but this one got to me because I hate when one parent decides they know what’s best for every child. If your kid starts acting inappropriately because of something they read in a book it’s because you didn’t explain to them not to do that, not because of the book. If you don’t want your kid reading it, fine, don’t let them read it, but don’t dictate what other children can and cannot read.


Brave New World , Aldous Huxley

Brave New World

This book has had so many accusations thrown at it I can’t even list them all here. It was banned in Ireland due to language used in the novel and apparently being anti-Religion. Huxley was accused of being a pornographer in India and thus the book was banned there in 1967. More and more controversies from all over the world were brought to attention with some teachers even being fired for assigning it! You can read a more complete list here.


Captain Underpants , Dav Pilkey

Captain Underpants

This one confused me so much. Captain Underpants has been banned in many schools because it is considered for some age groups and apparently encourages children not to listen to authority.


Crank, Ellen Hopkins

Crank

Crank has come under heavy scrutiny for it’s talk of drugs (one of the main plot points is drug abuse) and it’s discussion of sex. Hopkins herself was actually banned from speaking at a school’s literary festival in Texas after several parents complained.
*slow clap for those parents*


Cut, Patricia McCormick

Cut

The title gives you an idea of what the book is about and you can imagine right off the bat where the controversy comes from. Many parents and teachers believe McCormick’s book promotes self-mutilation, but many teens argue the opposite and believe this book actually helps break the wall surrounding the taboo topic. As someone who read the book as a teenager I have to say I agree with the teens.


A Farewell to Arms , Ernest Hemingway

a Farewell to arms

Hemingway has caused quite the stir with all his novels over the years. I found many of his titles on various lists of banned books during my research, but after reading the explanations they really aren’t all that controversial. The main issue with A Farewell to Arms was the language he used such as “shit”, “fuck”, and “cocksucker”*, all of which were blanked out when the book went to publication. However, something I learned and found quite funny, was that in at least two copies of the first edition of the book (which Hemingway gave away) he had gone back and handwritten the words in so they’d be correct.

*It’s funny because I normally avoid swearing on this blog, but as we’re talking about censorship and not censoring things it seemed appropriate to not blank out those words this time.


Deenie, Judy Blume

deenie

Deenie appears on the American Library Association list of 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000. The book has been challenged many times and banned in schools because it talks about masturbation and there is also a passage discussing menstruation and masturbation.


Goosebumps Series, R.L. Stine

Goosebumps

Once again we have books being challenged in schools. Goosebumps was considered ‘too frightening’ for school children and it was also believed to glorify satanic themes and rituals. This is one of those times where I wish I made Youtube videos (one day) because I want you guys to see my face when I read that. Like come on! Satanic themes? Do the people challenging the books even read them?


The Great Gatsby , F. Scott Fitzgerald

Great Gatsby

Language and sexual references were the reason The Great Gatsby was challenged by a Baptist College in South Carolina… Yup, that’s really all I have to say about that. I’m running out of ways to repeat the same reasons over and over.


The Outsiders , S.E. Hinton

Outsiders

Well I don’t agree at all with censorship, I can see where the controversy might arise with a book that deals with gang fights, a lot of cursing, and many underage characters drinking and smoking like it’s nothing.


Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita

The main premise of the book follows a middle age man falling in love with a fourteen year old girl. While I don’t agree with censorship or banning of any book, this is another where I can see why others might have an issue with it.


Rainbow Boys , Alex Sanchez

Rainbow boys

Rainbow Boys tells the story of three teenage boys in the process of coming out. This book has some vulgar language, including some homophobic slurs, and also deals with sexual material.


Slaughterhouse Five , Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse Five

Described as being “depraved, immoral, psychotic, vulgar, and anti-Christian” is only one of the reason Slaughterhouse Five has been banned from so many schools and censored all over the world. With discussions of sex and profane language, Vonnegut’s novel is often considered to be too inappropriate for the classroom. Interesting fact that I learned though was that this novel was one of the first to acknowledge homosexuals as being victims of the Holocaust.


Ulysses, James Joyce

Ulysses

This book has faced a lot of controversy since it’s publication due to the obscenity Joyce had included in the text. It was even banned from the UK until the 1930s. However, one of the funniest arguments I’ve heard in favour of the book is that people would actually have to fully understand what it says in order for them to be offended by it.


Of Mice and Men , John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

Euthanization, racism, and offensive language are what got this book banned from many schools all across the glove. Despite this, many of the bans have since been lifted and Of Mice and Men is actually taught in many places as part of the curriculum.


Mommy Laid An Egg , Babette Cole

Mommy Laid An Egg, Babette Cole

I had never heard of this book before I started doing research for this post, but I saw the title of the list and I just had to find out more. Cole’s book is meant for children and is a funny and light way of trying to explain the birds and the bees and where babies comes from.

I don’t think I need to say too much on why this is considered controversial. You mention the idea of teaching kids about safe sex and real life and suddenly everyone’s rabid and out for blood.


How to Eat Fried Worms , Thomas Rockwell

How to Eat Fried Worms, Thomas Rockwell

This book is challenged and censored because of the main plot point: eating worms. It’s thought to be gross. That’s it. Eating worms is gross so this book needs to be censored. Well yeah, obviously it’s gross, that why the kid in the book hates eating them, but it’s part of a bet so he does it anyway. It’s not because of vulgar language or sexual themes like most of these books, but because eating worms is thought to be too disgusting.


Gone With the Wind , Margaret Mitchell

Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

It was actually hard for me to pin point what the main issue people had with this book was. I read a few websites and they all said different things, but from what I gathered the main issues with this was Mitchell’s portrayal of the South in the 19th century. Her use of racist language and the apparent downplay of the KKK cause quite the stir which, yeah I can understand that

.


Censorship is crazy! I can understand why some people might get offended at some of these books or at some of the stuff these authors wrote about, but can I tell you a secret? They didn’t write it to please everyone and they don’t care if you like it or not.

Obviously it would be nice if people liked it, but no author ever writes a book expecting every person in the world to like it. And honestly a little controversy actually tends to work in the books benefit.

You try to censor or ban anything and the sales for that item always skyrocket because suddenly people don’t want you reading it and it becomes a lot more appealing.

Have you read any of the books on this list?

Were you surprised by any of these books?

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Banned Books Week 2015

banned

It’s that time of year again. A time for all writers and readers to celebrate the most controversial books. Yes, September 21-28 is Banned Books Week.

I love Banned Books Week. Everyone knows that feeling that when you’re told not to do something you only want to do it more. You tell someone who loves books that they can’t read it because it’s “too controversial”? Pfft, now I definitely want to read it.

I’m not going to go over all the details about Banned Books Week and what it is, I did that last year and you can find that post here.

What I didn’t talk about last year though is the freedom aspect of Banned Books Week. It’s not all about bringing awareness to books that have been banned/censored or bringing awareness to censorship in general. BBW is a celebration of the freedom to read.

Can you imagine a world without books? I sure can’t. But that’s basically what the world would be if we banned every book that had something in we didn’t like. Not everyone is going to like the same thing in books, that’s why there’s so many of them! There’s something for everyone. But just because you don’t like something in a book or something is considered offensive that isn’t a reason to ban it!

This should be considered in most things in life.

Imagine if Harry Potter had been permanently banned! These novels have had so much influence I can’t picture a world without them. Or how about a world without On the Road? This novel defined an entire generation and it continues to be an inspiration for many.

Alice in Wonderland, Animal Farm, Frankenstein, The Grapes of Wrath, Green Eggs and Ham! All these books have at one point or another been banned in various places! Looking at all these books it’s impossible to picture not seeing them on bookshelves and in stores.

These books (and more that have been banned) play huge parts in people’s lives. I don’t know any kid who hasn’t read Green Eggs and Ham at some point in their life. I know several people who would tell you one of those other books is their favourite to read and several people (myself included) who have had to read at least one of those books for school.

Banned Books Week isn’t just about bringing attention to these poor, censored books, it’s about celebrating being able to read them and all books! Being able to walk into a shop or a library and have any number of books at my finger tips is amazing and Banned Books Week always reminds me of that.

So this week go out and find a book that’s been banned! Read it, buy it, give it hug (it needs it). Enjoy your freedom to read!

What are you reading this Banned Books Week? Do you have a favourite banned book?

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Game of Thrones Names of the Week #4

Emilia

Female
Alternate Spelling: Amelia (Though this is debated as some people believe these names are too different)
Nickname: Mia; Emmy
Pronunciation: Ee-mee-lee-ah
Origin: Latin-America
Meaning: Admiring; Variation of Emily
Well-Known Emilias: Emilia (Othello, Shakespeare), Emilia Mendoza (The House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer), Emilia (A Holiday Romance, Charles Dickens), Emilia Greenleaf (The Other Woman), Emilia Clarke (Actress)

Khaleesi

Female
Pronunciation: Kah-lee-see
Origin: American
Meaning: Created Name (Dothraki title for the wife of a Khal in Game of Thrones)
Note: Though there are currently no other people or characters with this name/title, it has seen a rise in popularity due to Game of Thrones
Well-Known Khaleesis: Title given to Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Margaery

Female
Alternate Spelling: Margery; Marjorie (seems to be most common form)
Nickname: Marge
Pronunciation: Mar-jur-ee
Origin: English
Meaning: Pearl
Well-Known Margaerys: Margaery Tyrell (Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin), Majorie Ferrar (The Silver Spoon, John Galsworthy), Marjorie ‘Marge’ Dursley (Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling), Marjorie Westriding Yrarier (Grass, Sheri S. Tepper), Marjorie Torrey (Children’s Author)

Ned

Male
Alternate Spelling: Nedd
Pronunciation: Ned
Origin: English
Meaning: Prosperous Protector
Well-Known Neds: Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark (Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin), Ned Nickerson (Nancy Drew, Carolyn Keene), Ned Bigby (Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide), Ned (Pushing Daisies), Ned Banks (Ghost Whisperer)

Shae

Female
Alternate Spelling: Shay; Shaye
Pronunciation: Shay
Origin: Ireland
Meaning: Hawk
Well-Known Shaes: Shae (Game of Thrones), Shay (The Uglies Series, Scott Westerfeld), Shay Mitchell (Actress), Carly Shay (iCarly), Leslie Shay (Chicago Fire)

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Banned Books Week

0800070c64a8a824cd500d0074b6b0dfBanned Books Week! What is it? Why does it happen? Who started it? What are the most commonly banned books and why are they banned? These are questions I had when I first heard about Banned Books Week and today I’m going to answer these questions.

What is Banned Books Week?

Banned Books Week is a campaign of awareness that takes place in the last full week of September and is meant to bring attention to banned and censored books.

Why does Banned Books Week Happen?

Banned Books Week happens because of all the literary works that have been banned and censored over time. It is a campaign sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and is used to celebrate people’s freedom to read what they like. Over the course of this week people are encouraged to speak out about these books and speak out about the freedom to read in libraries and in schools.

Who started it?

Banned Books Week was started in 1982 and was co-founded by Judith Krug, an American librarian. She was a huge supporter of freedom of speech and spoke out against censorship.

What are the most commonly banned books and why are they banned?

The ALA releases a list every year of the most reported books for that year. Between 2000 and 2009 they said there were, “1,577 challenges due to ‘sexually explicit’ material [and] 1,291 challenges due to ‘offensive language’.” For the full list of reports you can see the list here.

As for the most banned books, it’s a little difficult to find out which these are as every website seems to list different ones. However, there are some titles that seem to stick out on more than one list. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, and Animal Farm by George Orwell are just a few. For a longer list you can check out the ALA Website or my post from earlier this week.

And why are they banned? There’s various reasons. From sexual content to profane language; from violence to homosexuality. These books are banned and censored for a wide variety of reasons, and I’m going to say the same thing I’ve said all week and that many others have said before me. If you don’t want to read the book, don’t read it, but don’t prevent other from doing the same.

What do you think? Should we still have a Banned Books Week?

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Poem of the Week – Manifesto

“Manifesto”

To you zealots and bigots and false
patriots who live in fear of discourse.
You screamers and banners and burners
who would force books
off shelves in your brand name
of greater good.

You say you’re afraid for children,
innocents ripe for corruption
by perversion or sorcery on the page.
But sticks and stones do break
bones, and ignorance is no armor.
You do not speak for me,
and will not deny my kids magic
in favor of miracles.

You say you’re afraid for America,
the red, white and blue corroded
by terrorists, socialists, the sexually
confused. But we are a vast quilt
of patchwork cultures and multi-gendered
identities. You cannot speak for those
whose ancestors braved
different seas.

You say you’re afraid for God,
the living word eroded by Muhammed
and Darwin and Magdalene.
But the omnipotent sculptor of heaven
and earth designed intelligence.
Surely you dare not speak
for the father, who opens
his arms to all.

A word to the unwise.
Torch every book.
Char every page.
Burn every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear.

– Ellen Hopkins

Ellen Hopkins is a young adult author of several books such as Crank and Glass. She was banned from speaking at a school after a complaint was made against her books. This poem was written as part of her response.

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And Tango Makes Three: The Story of Roy and Silo

And Tango Makes ThreeYesterday I mentioned briefly in my post what And Tango Makes Three is about. Today I decided to tell you the full story.

And Tango Makes Three is based on the true story of two Chinstrap Penguins, Roy and Silo, in a New York Zoo. In 1998, one of the staff at the zoo noticed the two penguins performing mating rituals. A year later, staff reported that the two penguins seemed to be attempting to hatch a rock as though it were an egg. This prompted zoo keepers to give the pair an egg, an extra egg that had been taken from a pair of penguins unable to hatch it (it is reported that this pair had trouble hatching eggs in the past too). Roy and Silo took care of the egg and when it hatched zoo keepers named the baby female Tango.

When Tango herself reached maturity, she ended up mating with another female penguin named Tanuzi, The last report I was able to find stated that Tango and Tanuzi were still together in 2005 and had been together for two mating seasons. However, 2005 was not a good year for Roy and Silo. Zoo keepers reported that the pair were forced out of their nest by a more aggressive couple and Silo then found himself a new mate, a female penguin named Scrappy. I don’t know where Roy and Silo are today, though in 2012 it was believed they were still alive and residing in Central Park Zoo, both would be around 27 years old now.

Roy and Silo reached fame when an article in 2004 reported on them and two other pairs of penguins and referred to them as “gay penguins”. Their story was detailed in Justin Richardson’s and Peter Parnell’s children’s book, And Tango Makes Three, as well as in the 2005 film, March of the Penguins. When Roy and Silo broke up there was quite a lot of controversy surrounding it and many organizations against homosexuality said that this proved a lot of their points. However, it has been discovered that same-sex pairings amongst penguins is actually incredibly common, but don’t usually last more than a few years.

So there you have it, the story of Roy, Silo, and Tango. In my opinion, it’s a lot of controversy for an incredibly common act amongst penguins. The book received a lot of flak for depicting homosexuality to children. Personally, I love the book. I think it’s wonderful story for children and I don’t think the fact that it’s two male penguins would really make any difference to any of the kids reading it. Like I said yesterday, if certain people don’t want their children read it, then don’t read it. However, I don’t think these people should be able to decide whether or not everyone reads it.

Roy and SiloYou can read more about Roy and Silo here.

What do you think? Should And Tango Makes Three be banned?

Buy And Tango Makes Three on Amazon

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