Thursday, October 8, 2009

Banned Books Week: 2009

by Pa Rock
Prolific Reader

Yes folks, it's Banned Books Week again, the time of year when the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, and some other groups who cherish the right to have a free and open access to ideas tell us what books are so controversial that they threaten to drive religious fundamentalists and other small minded morons into apoplectic fits.

The list of most challenged books of 2008 has just been published, and it sounds like ten winners to me. If you oppose the idea of others telling us what cannot read (like the brain-strained last governor of Alaska tried to do at the Wasilla Library), please support authors who dare to write about real life in real terms by buying one or more of these oh-so-dangerous titles.

The most challenged book of 2008 was an illustrated children's book entitled And Tango Makes Three, the true story of a same-sex penguin couple at New York's Central Park Zoo who were given an egg to raise. Did you catch that emphasis - true story? Stuff like that gives those whack-job fundamentalists a problem with their certainty that all gays choose to be that way. Most people don't choose their sexual orientation any more than penguins do.

Here is the list:

1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell - and illustrated by Henry Cole.

2. His Dark Materials (trilogy), by Philip Pullman.

3. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series,) by Lauren Myracle.

4. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz.

5. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya.

6. The Preks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky.

7. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar.

8. Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen

9. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

10. Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper

There are numerous reasons that people come up with for wanting to ban books, but generally it boils down to this - they are afraid of ideas that challenge long-held beliefs, and they want to remain comfortable in their small and secure world. But ideas are out there, and today, with the ubiquity of the Internet, anyone can explore any topic with relative ease. A youngster will not turn gay just because he reads about a pair of gay penguins, but the young reader might develop some tolerance and perspective from reading that book and grow into a better person - one that does not automatically hate - because of the experience.

A good book is a window that opens onto the world - the real world - the one in which we all must live.

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