Sunday, September 30, 2012

Banned Book Week 2012

Today is the first day of Banned Books Weeks, as well as its 30th Anniversary.  Its purpose is to celebrate the freedom to read, to read anything we want even if it is unpopular or unorthodox.   Remember May 10, 1933?  The day the Nazis held their now famous book burnings?  Some of my very favorite books went up in flames that day.  And sadly,


Well, part of the reason for the book burning was to make sure the German people would not have access to other ideas beside what the Nazis wanted them to know.  Ironically, they burned the works of Heinrich Heine, a German Jewish poet who had always been much loved by the Germans.  It was Heine who prophetically wrote
"Dort, wo man B├╝cher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen"
(Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people)

You read that and can immediately see the importance of fighting censorship.  

Thinking about all this, I thought I would include some of my personal WWII favorites that have been banned for one reason or another are

1- Starring Sally J. Friedman as Herself by Judy Blume - not her most famous banned book, but Blume says she identifies with Sally more than any other of her characters and this is the most autobiographical  book she has written.

2- Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank - written while in hiding from the Nazis, there are people who felt this book was too sexual and pornographic, a viewpoint that never ceases to make my jaw drop when I read it.

3- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller - this was banned for using dangerous language.  I read it when I was about 14 and just starting to appreciate adult farce and though I loved this book, I forget to pay attention to the dangerous language.  And yes, I know, I should have posted about it by now and I will at some point (and I will be sure to pay attention to the dangerous language this time around.)

4- Slaughterhouse Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut - this was recently challenged by a writer in Republic, MO, a fact I find mildly amusing because I actually know someone who lived there.  The reporter felt the language was profane and there was too much explicit sex.

5- A Separate Peace by John Knowles - another high school favorite, this was challenged for have graphic and offensive language and for being a "filthy, trashy sex novel."  Again I forgot to pay attention to that then, and, oh yes, when I reread it.

6- Summer of My German Soldier by Betty Greene - this was challenged because the ending was too pessimistic, too sexually explicit, and for unsuitable language.  Why didn't these challengers say anything about the severe beatings Patty was given by her father or is abusive behavior more acceptable that a few dirty words?

Do yourself a favor and read a banned book this week and


Be sure to visit YouTube to view some of your favorite people "exercising their First Amendment right to read a banned book" at the Virtual Read-Out



15 comments:

  1. I am participating in Banned Books Week, too; my selection was The Catcher in the Rye, and my post will be up on Oct. 5.

    Here's MY SUNDAY SALON POST

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    1. Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books so I will be sure to look for your post this week.

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  2. I support Banned Books Week by promoting it. Sadly, I don't think I can read a book for the week due to time constraints, though I'm planning to read banned books in the coming months. A Separate Peace is definitely on the list. Celebrate the Freedom to Read! Yey! :)

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    1. Sometime things come along and we just don't have time to participate, I know that has happened to me more than once. A Separate Peace is a really good choice, I thing, I hope you like it, too.

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  3. Totalally agree with you about Summer of My German Soldier. I reread it a few years ago and found some of the familial relationships quite disturbing. Don't remember much sexuality!

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    1. I am glad you agree. When I mention this to most people, they don't remember the beactings at ll. But then, like you, I don't remember much sexuality either.

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  4. I love to read Banned Books and I am always shocked by the books that have been banned. I have read many on the list you gave- but have yet to read Summer of My German Soldier. Maybe this week!
    ~Jess

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    1. Summer of My German Soldier is an interesting book, so I hope you get to read it. I also love to read Banned Books (you have to figure, if they don't want you to read something, there much be ideas or themes they want to hide from you to keep you from thinking about them)

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  5. I think I have Anne Frank & Slaughterhouse Five on my list, and I'm going to add Judy Blume's. Thanks for sharing these titles with us, Alex. (Off to tweet about the Banned Books Week now.)

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  6. So many Judy Blume books have been banned because they deal with the real things that become part of a kids like at different points and they are just was a kid really does need to read. Hope you like her as much as I do.

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  7. I am so thankful for the gift of reading. It truly does bring me great joy.

    So glad to have met you at KidLitCon. :O)

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    1. Yes, I am thankful for the gift of reading, too. And thank you for your great presentation of Saturday at KidLitCon. It was very helpful.

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  8. I am so grateful for the freedom we do have, & would always fight for a book to be the right thing to help students learn about others who might have similar feelings about themselves, and to learn that other people think differently & that's okay, too. Students need ideas, books offer so many, & students are our future. Thanks for your post!

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  9. I am also thankful for the freedom we have, and would also fight for being able to choose whatever I want read and what i could recommend to students.

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