Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates the beauty books bring to our lives or the rare experiences when our hearts are touched by the author’s words that keep us thinking, pondering and wondering. For some people, books, including many of our children’s favourite titles and award winners, are seen as a dangerous weapon and should not be read, such as Matilda by Roald Dahl (for its depiction of adults being abusive and neglectful), Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (for puberty topics and anti-Christian), The Captain Underpants books by Dav Pilkey (for its crude humour), The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (for depicting occult rituals), Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (for promoting witchcraft), George by Alex Gino (for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint), Charlotte’s Web by EB White (for talking animals), Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (for realistic depiction of various teen struggles, such as depression, drug use, bullying, sexual assault, and consent), and the most recent member of the Banned Book Club: Maus by Art Spiegelman (for being an inappropriate Holocaust education material).
According to American Library Association (2016), the top 3 reasons books were challenged or banned are:
It’s a relief that, according to a poll by American Library Association, 71% of people are not in favour of book bans (American Library Magazine) and “what we are hearing from is a very vocal minority” (ABC News). Regan McMahon, an author, journalist, and former book editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, points out that “reading banned books offers families a chance to celebrate reading and promotes open access to ideas” (2019). Corneal, a writer, suggests that banned books prepare children for real life challenges and broaden their thinking. To support our banned book authors and to advocate intellectual freedom, we need to “educate our loved ones about censorship and how it harms communities’ ‘ (Morehart) and show it by reading banned books. Here is a list of banned books your child should read suggested by The New York Times (and are available in our OYIS Libraries):
10 Reasons Books Are Challenged and Banned | Banned Books Week. https://bannedbooksweek.org/10-reasons-books-are-challenged-and-banned/. Accessed 25 Apr. 2022.
“Bannings and Burnings in History.” Freedom to Read, https://www.freedomtoread.ca/resources/bannings-and-burnings-in-history/. Accessed 26 Apr. 2022.
“Benefits of Reading Books: For Your Physical and Mental Health.” Healthline, 15 Oct. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-reading-books.
EDIAZ. “Banned Book FAQ.” Advocacy, Legislation & Issues, 25 Oct. 2016, https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/banned-books-qa.
Magnusson, Tasslyn. Censored Authors Speak 2022, April 6 2022, Online, https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=658855765340755
Morehart, Phil. “This Week in Book Censorship News.” I Love Libraries, 31 Mar. 2022, https://ilovelibraries.org/article/this-week-in-book-censorship-news-2/.
“New ALA Poll Shows Voters Oppose Book Bans.” American Libraries Magazine, https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/new-ala-poll-shows-voters-oppose-book-bans/. Accessed 26 Apr. 2022.
News, A. B. C. “The Librarians Uniting to Battle School Book Ban Laws.” ABC News, https://goodmorningamerica.com/news/story/librarians-uniting-battle-school-book-ban-laws-83678096. Accessed 6 Apr. 2022.
“Opinion: Book Bans Are about Winning Elections, Not Protecting Children.” Austin American-Statesman, https://www.statesman.com/story/opinion/2022/03/27/opinion-book-bans-winning-elections-not-protecting-children/7077061001/. Accessed 6 Apr. 2022.
Solomon 0, Dan. “Texas Schools Shouldn’t Ban ‘Maus,’ They Should Teach It.” Texas Monthly, 1 Apr. 2022, https://www.texasmonthly.com/arts-entertainment/dont-ban-maus-teach-it/.
Staff, S. L. J. “NCAC Launches Book Challenge Crisis Hotline and Censorship Database | News Bites.” School Library Journal, https://www.slj.com/story/NCAC-launches-book-challenge-crisis-hotline-and-censorship-database-news-bites. Accessed 6 Apr. 2022.
Yorio, Kara. “‘Gender Queer’ Tops Most Challenged Books List of 2021.” School Library Journal, https://www.slj.com/story/gender-queer-tops-most-challenged-books-of-2021. Accessed 6 Apr. 2022.
How do you “immerse” your child in English? As an educator I am tempted to post and quote research from different sources but I feel disconnected when I do that. Speaking from my own experiences and struggles is more meaningful. Immersion requires effort from the child and the parents. While it may seem overwhelming at first, it holds tremendous benefits.
My homecoming wasn’t some moral or spiritual victory. I had managed to escape where others couldn’t and I was lucky. I also worked really hard. I took advantage of the opportunities. All of it was in the shadow of my childhood traumas, the ones I carried around with me and dealt with the hard, and only, way: slowly and steadily and with the help of loved ones.