I had a pin on my purse for a time, that read “I read banned books.” One day, while driving in the car my twelve year old daughter asked me what it meant.
Now, Big One is generally a smart kid. She gets good grades, reads almost nonstop, and is planning on going to Oxford one day. The pin seemed straight forward enough, with very basic words. I wasn’t sure what was confusing her, since I know she is smart. The fact that she was asking genuinely confused me because I had no idea what could be tripping her up.
First thing I did was make sure she knew what banned meant. She knew of course; she understood what every word in the pin meant, but she couldn’t figure it out. The idea that a book could be banned was so far out of her range of thought she could’t understand. Why would anyone ban a book? How could someone do that?
We had a long talk about it, but I loved that my daughter found books so essential to life that she could not comprehend a book being taken away from her.
I LOVE banned books. I hate that people feel the need to ban them, but I love reading them. It is a little nerdy rebellion anyone can do. I know I am a little behind, as Banned Book Week was technically last week, but here are five books I think are worth breaking the ban and reading. Enjoy your little rebellion, and break some rules, the smart way.
(Small note, I have only included banned books I have actually read on this list. There are many more to read and some of them might be even better than the ones I list here. Take a chance and enjoy every rebellious moment.)
1.The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
I originally read this book in high school as part of an assignment. I found this to be oddly empowering; a woman in 1850 having a child on her own and taking all of the criticism. There was no blame placed on the father, in spite of the biological need for two people to create a child. It was horrible, the skewed way she was treated, so differently from how the men were treated. As a high school student, growing up surrounded by that same double standard, it effected me. I saw how she was treated and I hated it. Apparently, when it was banned, there was feelings that they handled the situation poorly. They should have been more remorseful, Hester Prynne should have been treated worse, and at one point it was considered to be pornographic. Whatever the bad, I have fond memories of this book.
2. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Come on, who doesn’t love this book? It is fun and crazy and honest to the emotional feelings of a small child. It is hard to figure out how to deal with your emotions at times when you are an adult, let alone when you are still growing and developing. Unfortunately, that was part of the problem. Some thought this book was a little too dark for children and disliked the honesty of a child being that angry at their parents.
3. His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
This makes the list mostly because I am currently reading it, and was not aware it was a banned book. I am only halfway through and have been enjoying it. There is a mix of religion, science, and witchcraft all in the middle of dimension jumping and war. It is engaging and in some ways completely believable. Religion has been at the center of many wars, and there is no reason not to believe it would not be at the center of at least a few fictional wars. And sorry to the very religious people in this world, but lets be honest, the religious groups are not always on the right side of the war. However, the work was seen as an attack on religion, and was confirmed as at least partially true by the author.
4.Where’s Waldo by Martin Hanford
Where’s Waldo was a book I deeply wanted when I was a child. I’m not sure why, but these were considered the absolute height of coolness in my Elementary school. If you had one of these books, you were amazing. There was just so much stuff to find, not only Waldo, but other things as well. Apparently these other things were the problem.
5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
While not banned in the completely traditional way this boot makes the list for a couple of reasons. First, I did like the book and the movie is currently sitting on my shelf waiting for me to have some time to watch it. Secondly, this book was recently banned, just within the last week. It has not been banned on a national level, just within a school district and only for the middle schools in that area as far as I know. The worst part of this banning? I can sort of agree. I am not for censorship in general, but I have a middle school child. Big One is in seventh grade, and is interested in several books which I have refused to let her read due to a sexual element. She is smart, and she could probably handle it, but she is still a little young to be thinking about those topics. Maybe it is because in my Mom brain she will never think of things like that. In a couple of years, yes, I will let her read it. I am not banning it forever, but just for now, in the same way the school district is banning the book. This is not a banned book per say, simply a book that is being saved for those who are within the proper age range.