Everyone who loves reading has done it. We stay up well past the time that we should go to bed just so that we can enjoy one more chapter of our current book. Sometimes these books are stealthily hidden beneath blankets and read with flashlights so that parents will not know what we are reading.
This week, the American Library Association is honoring “banned books,” which are books that have been outlawed for various reasons including language, morality, religion, and illustrations. In my opinion, every book worth reading has been banned for some unnecessary reason. Also, banning books only serves to stimulate a child’s curiosity and build their desire to read the book.
Below are my favorite banned books, the reason that they were banned, and why I loved them.
- The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum – People claim that it supports pessimism and has no literary value. I love The Wizard of Oz because it taught me how to think imaginatively and beyond concrete reality.
- The Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket – I will be the first to admit that Snicket’s books are disturbing. However, Snicket is one of my favorite authors because of his unique tales and unprecedented vocabulary-teaching ability. Besides, Snicket is not even a real person, so can we blame him for being bizarre?
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain – Mark Twain has been called racist, and there is foul language in the book. Nonetheless, this classic tale teaches history and loyalty.
- Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor – Some parents do not like that the series includes “coming of age” topics and homosexuality. I loved the series because I could relate to Alice as a teenage girl. Yes, the book did include “secular” content, but we live in a secular world. As Christians, we should be in the world; we should know what is happening around us. However, we are not of the world, and we will not agree with everything that the world promotes.
- The Giver, by Lois Lowry – The Giver includes violent misdeeds such as euthanasia and infanticide. However, it is also a story of love, breaking the status quo, and bravery.
- Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George – Violence and offensive language are the two main reasons that certain adults have tried to censor Julie of the Wolves. I appreciate Julie’s bravery, the story’s adventure, and George’s attention to culture.
A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein – Silverstein tends to be sarcastic and sassy. One of his poems says, “If you have to dry the dishes, And you drop one on the floor, Maybe they won’t let you Dry the dishes anymore.” Parents saw this as promoting disrespect and disobedience. I happen to love Silverstien’s dry humor.
- The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis – After reading this book, parents worry that their children will become disobedient and mischievous for the sake of adventure. Christians also criticize Lewis for animalizing Christ. On the contrary, Lewis wrote Narnia as a metaphor of Christ’s suffering, not a sacrilegious attack.
- If I Ran the Zoo, by Dr. Seuss – The country’s view of ethnicity was vastly different in the 1950s when Dr. Seuss wrote this book. That is why he included the line about helpers who “all wear their eyes at a slant.” My family spent quite a lot of time at a few different zoos when I was younger. Basically, my brother is Gerald McGrew.
- Junie B. Jones, by Barbara Park – Like so many other child heroes, Junie tends to be bratty, disobedient, and rude. However, these well-intentioned books simply seek to tell the story of childhood from the perspective of a first-grade girl. Let’s be honest–what child isn’t bratty, disobedient, and rude at times? The key is that parents should use the book as a way to discuss proper behavior with children.