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)
28 thoughts on “ATTEMPTED BANNING – Of Mice and Men… Under ATTACK”
OK that is just crazy! I just recently re-read OMaM and, while the ending is disturbing, it’s no reason for it to be banned. It’s a piece of American history, and the situations described in Steinbeck’s novel happened ALL THE TIME. For anyone to pretend it didn’t is just plain ignorant. This really frustrates me!
Exactly. I plan to read this one in the next few days.
How scary to see that so close to home! I’m glad that his campaign failed. I love that I can read whatever I want to without censorship and I think teens and school age children should be able to pick their own books, with the guidance of their parents. Blanket banning of books is negative for our society as a whole. It’s scary to know it’s still going on.
It is scary but also enlightening as now I know first hand how this happens. 🙂
Wow, how crazy to be so directly involved. Did you ever have to talk to “Dave”? Would be an interesting conversation. I’m glad he didn’t succeed.
I never did talk to “Dave”. When I finally knew what I was going to say to him and politely decline, his phone said it was too full of messages… I took that as a sign and felt like I tried 😉
Wow that is just crazy. I read Of Mice and Men in school. Glad he didn’t succeed.
It is a powerful book and deals with bullying which is a HOT topic now!
Definitely a hot topic now!!
I haven’t read Of Mice and Men, but I have read plenty of other books that are on that list, including the 2 you mentioned in your post and the one you eluded to. We book nerds need to be involved in our communities, so that this doesn’t happen !
Thats right! Nerds rule! I will pull out the big guns tomorrow at the book sale 😀
Nice going. I agree. If for reason I don’t want to read a book, I don’t. Someone will love it. When I review I tried to write what is good about a book rather I like it. Recent case if I had known about the contents I wouldn’t have downloaded it. I gave a5 stars as I felt it was a good especially for those that like genre.
Exactly Betty… you may rave about a book that I dont like at all or vice versa…. its all a matter of what you choose to read!
People like that just don’t get that reading those books gives you the opportunity to discuss those issues with others. A few years ago, I was disheartened when a book was removed for our public library system – and I don’t think it had been challenged.
I would love to know what book that was Kathy. You are right on too – books that go a little beyond your comfort zone open up lines for discussion.
I couldn’t agree more with you! I haven’t read the book, but I did went to see it in Broadway this year (while at BEA) and I LOVED IT.
OOH I bet that was awesome! I wish I would have known this was playing at BEA time… I would have loved to have seen it!
Very well said!
Life… is never dull.
I am reading a book about the atrocities that took place in the early sixties, the language situations and attitudes are true. It may end up challenged for speaking truth about a sad time in history. Yes, it is hard to read, but ignoring it or trying to pull books off shelves will not help.
Well put Nise – our history is not always pleasant but it is what it is… we can not lie about it or cover it up just because we dont like it.
I had to read Of Mice and Men in tenth grade English because it was one of the books who had to read in high school. I don’t get why people need to ban books that are recommended to read in school. Take the Harry Potter books for example they are always being challenged because of the magic in them. Reading Harry Potter books is what got me into reading when I was a kid.
I notice it is always classic books or Sci-Fi and fantasy books that are the most challenged. I mean when some classic books were written it was during a different time back then. I hope that I am making sense in what I am trying to write for my comment.
That first sentence should read: I had to read Of Mice and Men in tenth grade English because it was one of the books we had to read in high school.
Oops fingers were typing to fast to notice the mistake.
While it wasn’t my favorite book in the world (probably because it was required reading when I was in HS 24 years ago) it is a significant book. It tackles a lot of “not so pretty issues” that need to be discussed. More than that though is the writing. He wrote a book that could be analyzed for sentence structure, chapter flow, and storytelling how to. Seriously, take the story out of it and you have a great English class discussion just on the use of words.
This is on my list too. Thanks for hosting this challenge, I’ve been adding lots of books to my list!
Loved Of Mice and Men. One of those books you can’t Stop thinking about. Glad “Dave” lost!
It’s hard when you see it up close, isn’t it? I haven’t read the book in question yet, either. (I’m not convinced I’ll like Steinbeck by any stretch, but that remains to be seen.)
It has been years since I read Of Mice and Men but I agree that banning is wrong. It is difficult that these types of things are going on. Earlier this year a senior student was suspended for saying “God Bless You” to another student who sneezed! I think that is wrong too.