Happy Banned Book Week 2012!!! This week is a week to celebrate books that have been banned for some reason or another. Reasons cover everything from sexuality, witchcraft/magic, drugs, being too scary, political topics, violence, and foul language (or language which was correct at the time but is now considered offensive).

Click on the title of any of the books listed and it will take you to either Amazon or Project Gutenberg where you can download the ebooks.

It is believed that over 300 books were banned by schools, libraries, and other outlets during 2011. Some of those books include the following:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was challenged and banned because it was anti-family, insensitive, contains offensive language and occult/satanic ideas, and violence. I think I missed all of that when I read it.

My Mom’s Having a Baby!: A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy (Concept Book) by Dori Hillestad Butler is a children’s book written to help children understand what it means when mom is expecting. It was banned because someone deemed the topic to be unsuitable for the age group. *eye roll*

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer was banned in many locations because of religious reasons and being sexually explicit. I find this baffling because this book does not discuss religion, and there is definitely nothing sexual about it. It’s an angsty teen novel.

There are many classics who have been on banned lists for 50 years or more. Everyday a classic is challenged or banned. Most of the reasons these books are banned now is because of language that was common at the time the book was written is now considered offensive. Some of the books that fit in this category include:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain was first published in 1884 and first banned in 1885. Over 120 years later, the book still being banned however the reasons have changed. Originally it was banned because people thought it was a poorly written book. Now it is being banned because of the frequent use of the word “nigger”, along with being considered racist.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell proves that being a Pulitzer-prize winning novel does not keep it safe from censorship. It has been banned because of its realistic views of slavery and the use of the words “nigger” and “darkies”.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe has been banned for all of the same reasons as the previous two.

The following books were banned for various reasons, including violence and sexual content.

The Call Of The Wild by Jack London was banned because of it is considered too dark and violent. This book was burned in Nazi bonfires in the 1920’s and 1930’s because it was considered “too radical”. Personally, I loved this book as a pre-teen. I never considered it overly violent. It takes place in the lawless Alaskan wilderness, so the violence always made sense to me.

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll has been banned for promoting drug use (The Caterpillar and his pipe), and references to masturbation and sexual fantasies. Maybe I was too young when I read this book, but I don’t remember the masturbation and sexual fantasies. Might need to re-read this one….

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White is another award winning book that has been banned. This time not for language, violence, or sexual content. It was banned in a Kansas school district because the parents decided that talking animals are blasphemous and unnatural. They also felt that the spider’s death was not age appropriate. A school in England banned the book because it could potentially offend Muslim families because it featured a pig.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien has a long list of why it has been banned. Just a few reasons include: lack of religion, pipe smoking, being satanic, and promoting witchcraft. J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic and in many interviews stated that Middle Earth was a reflection of Christian values and morals. Who knows, I never got the Christianity message from this book. I loved it for being an epic fantasy.

Fiction books are not the only things to be banned. Here are some religious texts and non-fiction books that have been banned.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and The American Heritage Dictionary have been banned because they have definitions for oral sex, sex, penis, vagina, and other dirty words. Oh, no! We can’t have these books in schools because they might encourage a child to have sex!

The Holy Qur’an and The Holy Bible both have been banned for various reasons. The Soviet Union banned many religious texts as being “socially deviant”. These books have been banned for violence, sexual content, and for endangering a community’s religious status quo.

All of the books mentioned in the post, challenged and banned because one person was offended by the book and managed to convince others to be as well. Banning books is a violation of our First Amendment Right to freedom of speech and freedom of press. There are no exceptions to that law. While parents have the right to guide their own children’s reading, it does not extend to other people’s children. Nor should one adult’s touchy sensibilities dictate what other adults should read.

Remember, being offended is a choice. It is not a natural state of being. We are brainwashed from a young age about what things we should be offended by. It is time to break from that brainwashing, and expand our horizons by reading banned books.

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