BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Friday, August 19, 2011

More book censorship at US schools

As summer ends here in the US, schools are resuming classes. In my area of the US, most schools are resuming in the next few weeks while in other areas school has already begun. This means curriculum are being re-evaluated and last minute decisions made. Not surprisingly, this is the time of year when bannings and challenges increase.

Last month, Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s Slaughterhouse-Five and Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer were removed from Republic High School in Republic, Mo. (This same school system has been in the news recently for making a middle grade female student apologize to the male student who raped her. Seems to me this school has serious issues.) You may have heard about Vonnegut Library's response, an absolutely AWESOME one in my opinion - they offered free copies to any of the 150 students who were originally meant to read the book in class. The cost of the books is being covered by an anonymous donor.

Down in Virginia, Sherlock Homes came under fire. The Albemarle County School District removed the Sherlock Holmes mystery A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from a sixth-grade reading list this summer. Why? Parents complained that the book portrays Mormons in a negative light, according to Matt Haas, executive director of the county's schools. Now, I haven't read that one so I can't speak to that claim but it seems to me that the administrators passed up what we in education call "a teachable moment". The book was on the reading list as an introduction to the mystery genre, but it could also have served as chance to examine the portrayal of religion in historical fiction, an author's responsibility for factual accuracy; intentional bigotry versus unintentional bigotry, reading historical texts  from a contemporary perspective, and so on. The teaching possibilities are practically endless. Study of the book could have been incorporated into history, social studies, literature, and ethics to name a few. The book was moved to the ninth grade reading list and replaced on the sixth grade list with a different Sherlock Holmes book, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Remember that Banned Book Week, the ALA's annual observation and celebration of banned books and an individual's right to choose their reading material, is coming up in a little over a month. It runs September 24th through October 1st. I have something planned on the blog for every day of the observation.


  1. Many of my favorite books are on the "Banned Books List". It is amazing what people will fight- and often without reading the book!

    I found you through Book Blogs and signed up to follow you. When you have a chance- please stop by the blog for my middle grade novel that I am hoping to get published.

    Take care-
    Jess- although I may show up as Fairday, the main character from my novel. I can't figure out why that happens sometimes and I can't fix it. :)

  2. Hi Fairday/Jess, welcome to my blog.

    It is amazing to me how often people try to ban a book or movie without having read or seen it. At least if they have personal experience with it, they are making an informed objection. I still don't want them telling me what I can or can't read or watch, but I respect them more for having read or watched it.

    Good luck getting your novel published. :)


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