It’s Banned Books Week, and one of the things that most amuses me when perusing the lists of taboo texts is how many of the blacklisted titles we’ve read with our children…and loved doing so.
Here’s a sampling of just how rebellious we are:
1. “Fahrenheit 451“
Why it was banned: Profanity, bible burning and anti-government sentiment.
My high schooler read this during his freshman year, maybe because it was a required book. He says he appreciated Montag’s rebellious spirit. But at the time of reading, I remember he seemed pretty fascinated by the Mechanical Hound.
2. “The Lorax“
Why it was banned: Some in the logging industry opposed its “blind environmentalism” and negative view of logging.
This was a frequent read-aloud choice for all four of our kids when they were younger. The illustrations seemed to be the biggest draw for them, plus that cute little Lorax character and the wild truffula trees.
Personally, I’ve always loved the quote, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
3. “Charlotte’s Web“
Why it was banned: Some people apparently view talking animals as “unnatural,” while others object to young children grappling with the death of a beloved character.
I read this to my older daughter when she was in first grade. She enjoyed the special powers of Charlotte, and the tale of friendship was a nice fit for her age. It was also a book I loved as a child, so it was a fun one to share.
4. “The Giver“
Why it was banned: The book is viewed by some as being too dark for the target age group. It’s also seen as violent and clashes with some religious viewpoints.
This was my first foray into dystopia when I read it a lifetime ago as a teacher. So, I was thrilled when my oldest son read this for pleasure the summer after sixth grade. He enjoyed playing with the idea of what can happen if we take things too far. “The Giver” also introduced him to a format that has become the format for much of the young-adult world of literature: the trilogy.
5. “Captain Underpants“
Why it was banned: Anti-authority, partial nudity, offensive language and chronic misbehavior.
And just when you were thinking we were some highbrow family! My middle two children loved reading these books in first and second grades. Why did they like it? Please refer back to the list above for why it was banned. Despite our fervent wish that they return to more inspiring literature, these books frequently appeared in backpacks and on nightstands around our house for years. (Please don’t tell our youngest about them!)
6. The “Harry Potter” series
Why it was banned: It’s a series about magic-wielding wizards and good vs. evil. Many religious groups have challenged it on the basis of promoting witchcraft and the occult.
Our three older children had all seven books read aloud to them when they were in first or second grade. Our family devoured (excuse the pun) the Harry Potter series, and we’ve celebrated many birthdays, trips to Florida and events dressed in Hogwarts attire.
How about you and your family?
Does your family love to read banned books? Which ones? Let us know in the comments or via email.