I just finished reading a blog post by Aprilynne Pike. She's a YA author from right here in Phoenix, AZ. In it, she poses an interesting plan to thwart censorship in at least one forum--book festivals. I've included the link for those interested. The author Ellen Hopkins is uninvited from the festival due to the nature of her literature--which, by the way, kids eat up!
I met Aprilynne and a couple of other YA authors at a dinner hosted by a local bookseller about a year ago and had the pleasure of chatting one-on-one with her about YA lit and life in general. I have a few students who've read or are reading her best selling novel, Wings, and I recommend her when I can.
Give her a read.
This past school year, I served on our middle school lit committee. Other teachers, librarians, and myself get the pleasure of reading books and submitting them for inclusion on our approved novel lists for 6-8th grade. In many cases we read a fantastic work, but due to certain content, we choose not to submit. It may be that one panel of a graphic novel is too edgy or suggestive or that a novel contains one scene that is just too mature for a 13 or 14 year old.
Working as we do for a school district, we attempt to adhere to a stricter level of acceptability than what we would deem as such for ourselves. We are making decisions for students that are not our children and we're careful and responsible. Does this mean that we won't offend a parent or two with our selection? Nope. Someone's always offended no matter how diligent you are.
A couple of personal experiences...
I didn't read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee until I was an adult. Where I grew up, it was banned. Lee's novel wasn't approved for high school consumption until 2001. (I graduated in 1988.) Of Mice and Men is another favorite of mine that I taught to my 8th graders four years in a row. Some of the language is harsh and there are allusions to adultery, but when it's finished, my students understand personal responsibility and human dignity. They treat others with respect and compassion that didn't exist for many of them before reading the novel.
This is the power of good literature.
What's your favorite banned book?