Posts Tagged ‘Banned Books Week’

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A Wrinkle in Sanity

October 2, 2009

Fifth grade.  La Paz Elementary School.  I still remember sitting, wide-eyed

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time

with wonder, as our teacher read to us of a strange and mysterious world.  Day after day, we all gathered eagerly on the floor, ready to become immersed in a land filled with tesseracts, characters with odd names like Aunt Beast and Mrs. Whatsit, and a young, rebellious high-school girl named Meg who ultimately saves the planet.

Of course, I’m talking about the Newbury Award winning A Wrinkle in Time, written by Madeleine L’ Engle in 1962.  This book was my first introduction to science fiction.  After reading it in school, I remember snatching my older sister’s dog-eared copy from her room, so that I could log some serious mileage of my own on those pages.  I mean, what’s not to like?  A Wrinkle in Time features an amazing world chock full of equally amazing themes:  love conquers all, the importance of personal responsibility, and fighting the pressure to conform.   And as if that isn’t enough, the novel also hits on good vs. evil, courage, and integrating faith with reason.

You’d think a book like this would be accepted and adored throughout our country, right?  Wrong.  A Wrinkle in Time, like so many other childhood favorites, made the 100 Most Challenged Books list of the 1990’s.  Number 22, to be precise.  What a sad, sad thing censorship is—I can’t imagine having to grow up without this classic science fiction fantasy to keep me company.

Please, do yourself a favor—go to the American Library Association’s Most Frequently Banned Books page.  Read the list, and then read the books. Have your children read the books.  By doing so, you’ll help us fight conformity in our own world—and make Madeleine L’ Engle proud.

by Debra Driza

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Are you there Judy? It’s me, Kathleen.

September 30, 2009

JudyBlumeMargaret and I go way back; I’ve known her since the fifth grade. Margaret was cool and worldly—worldly compared to me, at any rate. I was just a Canadian kid in a town with a whopping population of 9,929. Margaret was from New York and her parents didn’t practice any religion. Her Dad was born Jewish and her Mom was born Christian but they said she could pick her own faith when she was older. How cool was that? She also knew all about periods—sorry, menstroo-ation. Thank God. My mother tried to explain it, once. It wasn’t the most effective talk. If Margaret hadn’t taken me under her wing, I would have fainted dead away at the first sight of red. She also helped convince me I wasn’t a total perv for sneaking my mom’s copy of The Art of Michelangelo up to my room to steal peeks at David.

Even though we drifted apart, I still think of her fondly. She was a friend when I needed one. When I saw her name on the American Library Association’s list of the 100 most frequently challenged books between 1990 and 1999, I was crushed. That’s right: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was one of the most challenged titles of the 90’s.

For almost forty years, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret has been changing the lives of pre-teen girls. Judy Blume accomplished a feat that is both awe inspiring and, to the wrong people, terribly frightening. AYTG? supplemented the five minute reproduction talk we got from our parents, taught us that it was okay to grow and change, and hinted that we could make important choices for ourselves—even when it came to something as seemingly unquestionable as religion. If Stephen King’s Carrie had been given a copy at, say, thirteen, that whole traumatic shower scene could have been avoided and she might not have set the gym on fire at prom.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
empowered us, even if we didn’t know it at the time. I was a stronger, more confident girl because of Judy Blume. Because of Margaret.

– Kathleen (who recently re-read Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret only to find all references to belts removed)

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Celebrating the Freedom to Read

September 29, 2009

September 26 through October 3 is Banned Books Week. Occurring the last September of each year, Banned Books Week is “celebrated” by hundreds of libraries and bookstores across the country in an attempt to draw attention to the problem of censorship. Sadly, many important YA and MG titles often find themselves on the list of most challenged books.

This week, some of us will share anecdotes and opinions about some of our favorite frequently challenged books. We hope you’ll share yours as well.

Note: The above clip is Dana Delany reading from “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle at Pen USA Forbidden Fruit, June 4th, 2006. For information about Pen Center USA, please click here. For a list of the 10 most challenged books in 2008, please click here.

– Kathleen (who won’t let them take her books)