Book Chat Collective: Banned Books

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The Book Chat Collective is a new meme hosted over at An Old Flame. I really like the chat about books that goes on over at An Old Flame so, even though I’m not generally a meme person, I thought this would be a really fun one to participate in.

The idea is that every week there’s a different book related topic for bloggers to blog about. You are asked to visit two other blogs (or more) and comment on their opinions (whether you agree or not) before you post your own opinions on your blog. If you want you can refer to what other bloggers have said and this helps keep the chain going.

This week’s topic: We’re at the tail end of Banned Books Week. Is there ever a reason, in your opinion, to rightfully ban a book?

Well instantly when I read the topic I thought no. I’m a big believer in freedom and I think people should be able to choose for themselves what they read or not. But then I read An Old Flame’s post on the topic, and I thought about the bad situations which could come about from a book. I disagree with her actual example, I think Salaman Rushdie might have known how controversial his book could be- and the publishers probably did too, I mean his life is at risk because of he but he could have chosen not to publish it. I can see though how books could pose some risk, and maybe that readers, publishers or even writers might not foresee how much risk. Should these be banned? Maybe, in the interests of public safety, but to say that grindes with me.
On a smaller level I can understand parents wanting to ban certain books in schools, especially as they might be compulsory reading. I think you should let your teenager read whatever they want, and maybe just make sure they understand what they are reading, but while you can advise your kids against something which is their own choice you can’t advise them against reading something that is compulsory reading for school- they have to read it whether they feel comfortable with it not. I can completely understand parents wanting to ban those sort of books from school reading lists, but I don’t think access to them should be completely banned- it’s better maybe to explain why you don’t think your kids should read the book to them and make their own decision. However in that situation I think it should be done on a case by case basis rather than banning a book from all school reading lists. Let the parents know what they’re children are reading and give them a chance to object if they want to, so you’re not giving their kids something to read that the parents don’t think is right.

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8 responses to “Book Chat Collective: Banned Books

  1. This is exactly what I’d hoped for….more food for thought. I’m glad you’re participating.

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  2. fefferknits

    Hi! I’m Jen, and I’m in on the hop, too!

    I agree about not banning books from compulsory reading–there were a couple of books in HS that some of the parents were uncomfortable with, and I know there were alternate books that were on the curriculum for such cases. I liked that idea, since it still allows the others to read the original book, but gives flexibility.

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  3. I actually disagree, I think that the kinds of books parents like to see banned in schools are ones that make them uncomfortable for various reasons, often because of their own upbringing – they’re not erotica! The confronting books on school reading lists are confronting because the parents lack the kind of education the schools are trying to give their kids: one where they have the skills to read intellectually.

    What I mean is, there’s more to reading than just reading, and understanding what the words mean. The school system is meant to teach us how to read: how to interpret, analyse, critique, reflect on our own socialisation, see how we ourselves are being shaped by media and culture into thinking a certain way, and so on. That’s English class, yes?

    Parents who seek to ban books are ones who shy away from analysing their own being, their own thought-processes, therefor they don’t really understand why they are uncomfortable with particular books. The answer though is simple: some books threaten their peace-of-mind, in that they force them to question the way they live, the way they think.

    It’s important to have intelligent debate about books’ subject-matter, not to take them blindly on faith as being important. No book is above critique. That’s why it’s so important that students read books in the education system, with teachers who have the skills to teach them how to analyse what they’re reading. If a book is confrontational, or deals with issues that parents don’t like to think of their children being affected by – all the more reason to include it (within reason).

    Sorry, I’m ranting – the issue of banning books does tend to inflame me! It just makes me so angry to see this cycle of ignorance persist. The worst thing you can do is ban a book – not because it makes people want to read it, but because when they do read it they won’t necessarily have the skills to read it. That’s the point of English class. The kinds of books parents seek to ban in schools – it boggles my mind. That said, yes, there is age to consider, but schools are actually really very good at that.

    To try and ban To Kill a Mockingbird because you think black students will be offended by it – wow. Just, wow. (Last year I read this on the American Library Association’s list of banned books, which includes who tried to or did ban it and the argument for it. It was just … wow.)

    You take a much more diplomatic approach to this topic than me, Lucy! I tend to get all hot and bothered and narky about it 😉 I appreciate your cool head 🙂 I’m an English teacher so it’s bound to get me all riled up!

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  4. lucybirdbooks

    Thanks for the reply.

    I get what you mean. I suppose in lots of cases it seems like the reasons for banning a book most of the time are a bit ignorant- like banning To Kill a Mockingbird because it’s racist! (My other Book Ban Week entry goes on a bit more of these lines, and gets kind of ranty!) And I suppose that without good teaching of books- especially controversial ones- then that sort of ignorance will carry on. I still think it’s better for parents to try and discuss with their children why they object to a book, and maybe then they can both learn things.

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  5. Very Nice 🙂
    I will be your subscriber.

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  6. That would be ideal, but the sad fact is the parents who have problems with this are the ones calling for bans, and are also the ones who wouldn’t be great at talking to their kids about it. It’s just sad, is all. It makes me sad 😦

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  7. lucybirdbooks

    I suppose you are right, sadly. Most well educated people (although it feels like such a stereotype to say it) who would talk to their children about what they disliked about the topic of a book would not want it banned in the first place- although they may want it treated sensitively. I suppose that posses should the book then be banned because the parents couldn’t talk to their children about that sensitive subject and make sure that it didn’t have a negative effect on the child? At school I would expect a teacher to treat a subject sensitively but if a child got a book out the library that they had trouble understanding the topic of who would then talk to them about it?

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  8. Pingback: And the Blog Hop starts again « Lucybird's Book Blog

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