Friday, October 3, 2008

Thank You, Judy Blume

It's Banned Books Week and I confess that I've probably been a little too reliant on Robie Harris to teach my kids the basics of sexuality. Both "It's So Amazing" and "It's Perfectly Normal" were given out in anticipation of the sticky questions. Not surprisingly, one of them is on the "Most Challenged Books of the Year" list.

When I was in 5th grade "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" was all the rage. It was our handbook for getting our periods. Judy Blume didn't paint a rosy picture of elementary school life. She didn't gloss over the details, but gave us uncensored teasing, bullying, armpit hair, cliques, and parental conflict.
We commiserated with her characters and felt less alone with our feelings of insecurity and geekiness. Judy's books were - and still are- frequently challenged and she has lots of remarkable things to say about censorship.

There's another list, at Common Sense Media, of challenged children's books. This is a site that I rely on to give me some guidelines on things I'm feeling clueless about (like is "The Dark Knight" appropriate for an 8 year old boy?) Check out their list here.

And here is the American Library Association's List of Most Challenged Books of the Year:

And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious
Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

Olive's Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Reasons: Racism

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,

TTYL, by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
Reasons: Sexually Explicit

It's Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to
Age Group

I'd love to know about any favorite "banned" or "challenged" books you may have!


tut-tut said...

L told me that there is a children's book about two penguins who band together to hatch an egg/raise a hatchling (I'm not sure, and she's not here to ask) that was banned somewhere, because the two penguins were males . . .

JGH said...

Tut, that sounds so cute! Who could possibly take issue with it?

Joanne said...

It's pretty amazing what gets banned, or challenged. I mean, it's 2008, and for all our liberal thinking, we haven't moved very far, have we? Interesting post.

Squirrel said...

Maya Angelou is wonderful. I look forward to reading her newest book.

JGH said...

Joanne, it does seem like lots of books that were challenged years ago have become classics. I wonder if that will be true in the future for the ones in question now.

Squirrel, thanks for visiting. I also love Maya and read the Caged Bird years ago. I remember so little about it now. I'll have to look for the new one.