Earlier this week this post was on Books Are My Thing. I am now posting it here as well as it is my personal story about a book banning that hit way too close to home and I think it is important to share the details of how a group can fester into attacking a book. ~Sheila
I am a huge advocate of Banned Books. Ever since I discovered these books about 4 years ago, and what books they are and why they have been banned or challenged… I have come to love them and support them. Which is why – I was all the more disheartened by a happening in my own home town of Brainerd Minnesota this past February.
A friend of mine had called me and said that a mutual person we knew, I will call him Dave, was looking to put together a local team of people who would look at books for our school library. This sounded very positive to me and my friend had said that she had given Dave my name as a possible person of interest in this project. I had visions of helping to promote books for the high school and being President Of The Friends Of The Library as well as on our city Library Board, I was thrilled about the concept.
Then, the phone call came.
Dave had left me a message and as I listened to it, my heart sank. Dave mentioned that this team he was putting together was a team that would take books out of the system that he and his team deemed inappropriate, in fact – they had a book they wanted to tackle right now and hoped I would join in their fight. The book he described as being of poor quality, severe language and idea, and taking the Lord’s name in vain. As his message went on I wondered what book could it be that had him so fired up… could it be 50 Shades Of Gray (a book I have not read nor do I plan to read it so I did not know its exact contents), or maybe I thought it was Hunger Games….
When Doug mentioned the book title, my heart fell.
Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck.
As Dave spoke I quickly googled Of Mice And Men on my laptop to see what the issues were. I had not read of Mice and Men, but had a copy at home on my book shelf with the classics.
When I looked it up I found this:
Why Is Steinbeck’s Work Considered a Controversial Book?
Of Mice and Men offers a wealth of rich themes, insight into the deeper levels of the human mind, and an open doorway into some of the darker issues of life — death, racism, sexism, false hopes, and the harshness of poverty. For educators interested in stimulating the minds of their students and encouraging critical thought John Steinbeck’s controversial book is perfect; so, why was it a banned book? The following are complaints that have arisen in the past, are of concern to parents today, and will probably be brought up in the future:
• Use of the ‘N’ word;
• Some claim it’s derogatory towards African Americans;
• Some claim it’s derogatory towards women;
• Racial slurs;
• Violence; and
• Absence of traditional values.
Still, the students were High School Students that they were trying to remove this book from. That did not make sense to me. Clearly Dave did not know my stance at all with Banned Books, or my role at the Library. Not only was I not interested in his attack team – I was against what he was trying to do.
In the end, Dave did go ahead and have his day of trying to remove the book from the library and he failed. (See newspaper article)
For myself, it was pretty amazing to see firsthand what people try to do because they feel something should not be read.Honestly, I still get upset when I think about. What Dave and his group should do is check out the banned books list… I know for a fact there is at least one book on that list that they would hate to see not made available to the public. Why is it ok for anyone to think they can pick and choose for all?
Banning books is wrong. Just because you or I choose not to read something does not give us the right to say that NOBODY can read it. Books, like Of Mice and Men are part of our culture and history. I for one will be reading this book this year during Banned Books Week.
*puts away soap box… off to read a banned book*
Note: Commenting on any of my banned book related posts this week will enter you into my giveaway. (one entry per relevant comment)