I Just Don’t Understand – Reasons Behind Banned Books

Posted September 24, 2013 by Emz Chang in / 0 Comments

In continuation of yesterday’s Investigated post/rant (Investigated – Banned Books)…

Yesterday I mentioned one of reasons the concept of banned books makes me mad is the reasons on which the books were banned. I used Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher to help illustrate my point. Today, I will use a few more examples.

EXHIBIT ONE: THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher
Read yesterday’s post (link above).

EXHIBIT TWO: HARRY POTTER by J.K. Rowling
Okay, so maybe the reason why I don’t understand why this book was banned is because I am atheist. However, I have heard of the witch trials that happened way back when. But that was soooo long ago. I guess I am just flabbergasted that people feel the need to ban this incredible series because it is about witches and wizards. Harry Potter is my one of my favorite series and I have spent much of my childhood reading and rereading the whole entire series. Everyone I know has read all the books and watched the movies. No, just no, Harry Potter does not deserve to be banned.

EXHIBIT THREE: LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green
I haven’t personally read Looking for Alaska, but from what I heard, it is a really good book. I find the reason behind the banning of this book to be extremely stupid. Looking for Alaska was banned because it contained inappropriate language. I just want to point one thing out. Looking for Alaska is a YA book – it was written for teens, for high schoolers. I just happen to be a high school student and I have to say that there is not one day when I walk through the halls of my high school that I do not hear any cursing. I hear it everyday. In fact, I often view books that contain cursing to be more realistic than ones that don’t. And I also have to point out while I don’t curse, cursing is part of my everyday life. That’s why banning a book so teens can’t read it because it has inappropriate language seems a bit umm… dumb since those teens are probably hear that kind of language on a daily basis.

EXHIBIT FOUR: ROMEO & JULIET (NO FEAR SHAKESPEARE) by Sparknotes
Okay, the banning of this book is especially weird to me because, well, it’s not a real book. It’s more of a study guide, to help you better understand the real book. And there’s the fact that you can find it online on Sparknotes’ website. It was banned at a school because it contained sex. Interesting enough, the original version, the one written by William Shakespeare himself is not banned. And there’s the fact that there was actually a school who had students reading this book instead of the real version. Umm, this is kind of like CliffNotes…. So excuse me if I seem confused about why this book was banned.

EXHIBIT FIVE: THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins
While I am not the biggest fan of the trilogy as a whole, I have to admit, I loved reading this book. It was challenged by a mom for causing her daughter nightmares and for violence. This is a real head scratcher. The book contains violence – anyone knows that. It is even pointed out in the synopsis “The cruel Capitol forces each of 12 districts to submit a boy and girl 12-18, to fight to the death. Only one can survive and be rewarded.” You would think that includes violence. So apparently the mom didn’t care enough to read the synopsis until her daughter started having nightmares? And then she tried to get it banned?

EXHIBIT SIX: JULIE OF THE WOLVES by Jean Craighead George
This is another one of the books from my childhood. I remember reading this in fifth grade and falling in love with the story. Julie of the Wolves is about an Eskimo girl who ran away from her home in Alaska in hopes to somehow find her way to San Francisco. Along the way she gets stranded in the cold and meets a pack of wolves. In order to survive she must gain the trust of the wolves and trust her Eskimo instincts. Julie of the Wolves was banned because it was unsuited for age group and for violence. I guess people thought it was unsuited for the age group because it was had had a 13 girl married and dealing with self discovery (and because of the violence)? As for the violence part – this is a survival story about a girl relying on a pack of wolves to stay alive. You would think there would be some description about how the wolves feed themselves. It’s not like wolves are vegetarians…

EXHIBIT SEVEN: BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA by Katherine Paterson
Yet another book from my days in elementary school, Bridge to Terabithia was banned for violence and offensive language. I just have to say while I remember it does deal with death, I don’t really remember the offensive language. I have a short story about this book and my experiences with concerned parents. The summer before my freshman year in high school, I volunteered at my local library. My primary job was the man the summer reading program desk. At the desk we (the volunteers) were in charge of keeping track of reading logs and giving out prizes. The prizes were books and that year Bridge to Terabithia was one of them. A mom came up to me and asked me if I thought the book was suitable for her 12 year old daughter. I told her I read the book when I was 10, that it was a good book, and I didn’t see anything wrong with her daughter reading it. She says “well, yeah, but you were probably a mature reader. We watched the movie and I know how this book goes. My sister would never let her daughter read this book.” I was kind of shocked. Mainly because the movie is more graphic than the book (it is a movie, after all). If you already watched the movie, how are you still afraid to read the book? I always viewed Bridge to Terabithia as a sad book, a book about friendship and misfortunes. But I never viewed it as offensive and violent.

EXHIBIT EIGHT: JUNIE B. JONES & SOME SNEAKY PEEKY SPYING by Barbara Park
Bang. Bang. Bang. That’s the sound my head makes when I bang it again my desk. The Junie B. Jones series is the first series, the first few books that remember reading on my own, without any help from my mom. I remember reading them in kindergarten and in first grade. Apparently this book was challenged because it disagreed with the social values of parents. I thought it was an innocent book about a crazy little girl. So, you can see how I don’t get the the banning of this book.

EXHIBIT NINE: ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell
Like Looking for Alaska, I haven’t read Eleanor & Park, myself. However, I have heard plenty of good reviews praising it and saying how good it is. And guess what? Eleanor & Park was banned for profanity, kinda like why Looking for Alaska was banned… And get this. It was the parents of high school students that advocated for the banning of this book. Obviously those parents have no idea what teenagers say when they are not around. If they did, they probably end up buying a lot of soap instead of banning a book so many people loved reading.

EXHIBIT TEN: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee
The fact that To Kill a Mockingbird is a banned book is kind of ironic. Why? Well, because the main reason why I read this book was because it was required reading when I was middle school. Since then, it has become one of my favorite classics. I just find it a bit interesting that it is banned in some schools while it is required in mine. Although that might not say much as other required reading books in my school district include The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, both of which are banned in other places. Needless to say, by school doesn’t really have problem with books that are banned in other areas. To Kill a Mockingbird was banned because it was “deemed inappropriate” for the age group (there are mentions of rape) and for racism. Granted I live in New Jersey so racism (at least the kind in To Kill a Mockingbird) wasn’t really a problem. As for the rape issue, let’s just say one of the units we covered when I was in eighth grade was genocides…

Emz Chang

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