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

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The 2011 Banned Books List by Charlotte Bennardo

Today's guest post is courtesy of YA author Charlotte Bennardo. She and Natalie Zaman wrote their first book, Sirenz, which was released this summer.

Charlotte spends a lot of her time putting her characters into horrendous circumstances, and likes to watch them squiggle to get out. She writes for kids, middle graders, young adults and grownups. She's kinder to her family, pet, friends and the area wildlife (even though they eat her gardens). Sirenz is her first series, and other books are in that torturous publishing queue. Stay tuned!

Natalie likes pointy things.  Pencils. Pens. Needles (the knitting and sewing variety). Arrows. And sparkly things. They keep her busy. She's currently busy plotting disasters for the characters of Sirenz and working on a Victorian steampunk fantasy for teens. Natalie lives in central New Jersey with her family and several fine looking chickens.

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     Have you read through the 2011 Banned Books List? Give us a moment to recover from the shock. The major question on our minds is: Who the hell is so mentally deficient to ban these books? The next question is: WHY are we listening to these people?

     Take Huckleberry Finn. That classic tale has been around for over a hundred years, and we’re still getting pissy about it?? Yes, it uses the “N” word. A) It was in popular use at the time. B) Anyone with a teaspoon of brain matter realizes that it’s racist and will refrain from using it. C) Noted writers like Walter Dean Howell, an African-American, has defended its use in the literary format. D) Reading it opens opportunity for discussion on its meaning, its relevance and its impact from when Twain wrote it until today.  E) Can we all move on?

     Another on the list to shake your head at: Twilight. Really? The Couple Who Wait For Marriage, the cornerstone of Conservative thinking (and we have no problem with it), is banned? Why? What possible reason; lying to parents to save their lives? Not wanting to go to the prom? And The Lord of the Rings?  Seriously? Quick, someone do something because we’re being mind controlled if we’re allowing The Diary of Anne Frank to be vilified.

     Sure, some books have a mature content: Lady Chatterly’s Lover is NOT suitable for high school or lower, but don’t BAN it, just leave it off the curriculum. (Let’s face it, by the time kids go to college, they’ll be doing what’s in the book.) Go Ask Alice is the quintessential book about drug addiction and its consequences, there is no glorification of addiction. Instead of inane slogans like “Just Say No” hand a kid this book. It’s guaranteed to have a bigger impact.

     Some other books on the list: The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, Jaws, ttyl series, Madame Bovary, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, The Grapes of Wrath, The Scarlett Letter. There are too many more. It’s not just disheartening to writers, but to readers. And it’s hypocritical. Parents who won’t allow their children to read The Lovely Bones because it addresses the horrific rape and murder of a 14 year old girl will allow these same children to watch and play video games where the ultimate win is to see how many soldiers, either foreign or our own, they can brutally decimate with weapons or hand-to-hand combat.  ???

     In our own school district, Julie of the Wolves has been removed from the fifth grade curriculum because of a violent scene. We both have a sixth grader who may be reading it. As responsible parents, professional writers, and reasonable people, it is up to us to read the book and discuss the scene in question with our sons. A good teacher/school board will make sure that the students understand the context of the violence.

     And isn’t that what reading is about? Understanding the context of events, situations and relationships in not only our own narrow, prejudiced lives, but in the world around us? Isn’t school the place to expose our children to new concepts in a rational, logical, non-judgmental environment so they can formulate their own beliefs and opinions? If not in school, then where? And wouldn’t you prefer to work with your children’s teachers then leave it to a video game maker or TV shows to educate and season their minds? And who are these people that we give them credence and power over our children’s education and lives?

     Overheard: (Char’s college-aged son) But I read these books! Who do I slap? Are they f&*^% nuts? {Bea here - I love his response. Keep reading Char's son!} [Note: this article will probably be banned by some because of inappropriate language, violent content and critical thinking.]

     Rise up! Protest! Let’s ALL read a banned book.



  1. wow! just, wow. I personally loved Twilight, I found it refreshing they waited unlike in 'real' life. I thought the message was really very good. The whole idea of 'banning' books is so wrong.

  2. Whenever I hear the reason for a book bring challenged or banned, I usually find myself going WTF? When I hear the reason. The reasoning rarely makes sense to me.

    Then there's the whole "forbidden fruit" factor. When you try prevent people from doing or enjoying something, you make it more desirable and appealing.

  3. Part of what annoys me is the lack of people who have actually read the banned book who jump on the wagon to villify the title.

    It doesn't make sense as you're having to rely on others to tell you what its about that's so objectionable. Do you take people's words on things or do you make up your own mind. That's the key.

    Reading is the way to expand your understanding of things, and they ban books because they find issue with some of the content but do they go through thier child's history class with the same vigor? After all, there's a lot of questionable material within that and yet you'll find few objecting to anything that they can get taught in there. Plus do these so called "concerned" parent's check the news or watch it with thier children to talk through the concerns?

    Perhaps we should take a wider stance on things and not just blinker the odd piece.


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