Thursday, 3 September 2015

FREEDOM TO READ: Day 1 and 2

Ray Bradbury

Yesterday I discussed To Kill a Mockingbird and my Freedom to Read Challenge...did you know that To Kill a Mockingbird is a BANNED book!

The following reasons it was "challenged" is from American Library Association's Banned and Challenged page:
  • Challenged in Eden Valley, MN (1977) and temporarily banned due to words "damn" and "whore lady" used in the novel. 
  • Challenged in the Vernon Verona Sherill, NY School District (1980)  as a "filthy, trashy novel."
  • Challenged at the Warren, IN Township schools (1981) because  the book does "psychological damage to the positive integration process" and "represents  institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature." After unsuccessfully trying to ban Lee's novel, three black parents resigned from the township human relations advisory  council.
  • Challenged in the Waukegan, IL School District (1984) because the novel uses the  word "nigger."
  • Challenged in the Kansas City, MO junior high schools (1985). Challenged at  the Park Hill, MO Junior High School (1985) because the novel "contains profanity and  racial slurs." Retained on a supplemental eighth grade reading list in the Casa Grande, AZ  Elementary School District (1985), despite the protests by black parents and the National  Association for the Advancement of Colored People who charged the book was unfit for junior high use.
  • Challenged at the Santa Cruz, CA Schools (1995) because of its racial themes.  Removed from the Southwood High School Library in Caddo Parish, LA (1995) because the book's language and content were objectionable.
  • Challenged at the Moss Point, MS School District (1996) because the novel contains a racial epithet. Banned from the Lindale, TX advanced placement English reading list (1996) because the book "conflicted with the values of the community."
  • Challenged by a Glynn County, GA (2001) School Board member because of profanity. The novel was retained. Returned to the freshman reading list at Muskogee, OK High School (2001) despite complaints over the years from black students and parents about racial slurs in the text.
  • Challenged in the Normal, IL Community High School's sophomore literature class (2003) as being degrading to African Americans.
  • Challenged at the Stanford Middle School in Durham, NC (2004) because the 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel uses the word "nigger."  
  • Challenged at the Brentwood, TN Middle School (2006) because the book contains “profanity” and “contains adult themes such as sexual intercourse, rape, and incest.”  The complainants also contend that the book’s use of racial slurs promotes “racial hatred, racial division, racial separation, and promotes white supremacy.”  
  • Retained in the English curriculum by the Cherry Hill, NJ Board of Education (2007).  A resident had objected to the novel’s depiction of how blacks are treated by members of a racist white community in an Alabama town during the Depression.  The resident feared the book would upset black children reading it.  
  • Removed (2009) from the St. Edmund Campion Secondary School classrooms in Brampton Ontario, Canada because a parent objected to language used in the novel, including the word “nigger."
 Wow, I cannot believe that in the 1990s and 2000s we are still trying to shield children from the truth rather than starting a dialogue, and showing a child how to process what comes at them.  I don't use racial slurs - not because someone told me it is wrong but because I understand the connotations behind them and it's not something I want to contribute to the world.  I learned this through reading and lessons taught in school and home.  (I watched this movie and read the book in the 1990s). Isn't the point of school to learn and discuss.  Talking about racism, violence, bullying, etc will not cause such things.  Keeping it hidden and giving it this mystique gives it power to fester.  And, while I can see how the sexual content might be inappropriate for young children I do think high school students can grasp the concept and it's purpose.  In the day and age of the internet the sexual content in To Kill a Mockingbird is nothing compared to see Kim Kardashian's everything everywhere.  This is all just my opinion.

 In 1966, through The Richmond News Leader, Harper Lee responded to Hanover School banning her book:

“Recently I have received echoes down this way of the Hanover County School Board’s activities, and what I’ve heard makes me wonder if any of its members can read,” she wrote.
“Surely it is plain to the simplest intelligence that ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ spells out in words of seldom more than two syllables a code of honor and conduct, Christian in its ethic, that is the heritage of all Southerners. To hear that the novel is ‘immoral’ has made me count the years between now and 1984, for I have yet to come across a better example of doublethink.
“I feel, however, that the problem is one of illiteracy, not Marxism. Therefore I enclose a small contribution to the Beadle Bumble Fund that I hope will be used to enroll the Hanover County School Board in any first grade of its choice.”


Another book read in high school (I read this one in the eleventh grade -1997) is Lord of the Flies by William Golding.  I am not a big fan of this book.  I read it once and that was quite enough for me.  BUT I am glad I read it and am glad I can make the choice to not read it again.  The following is the challenges this book has received:

  • Challenged at the Dallas, TX Independent School District high school libraries (1974)
  • Challenged at the Sully Buttes, SD High School (1981). Challenged at the Owen, NC High School (1981) because the book is "demoralizing inasmuch as it implies that man is little more than an animal."
  • Challenged at the Marana, AZ High School (1983) as an inappropriate reading assignment.
  • Challenged at the Olney, TX Independent School District (1984) because of "excessive violence and bad language." A committee of the Toronto, Canada Board of Education ruled on June 23, 1988, that the novel is "racist and recommended that it be removed from all schools." Parents and members of the black community complained about a reference to "niggers" in the book and said it denigrates blacks.
  • Challenged in the Waterloo, IA schools (1992) because of profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women and the disabled.
  • Challenged, but retained on the ninth-grade accelerated English reading list in Bloomfield, NY (2000).
Amen, Mr. Golding!
Here's the thing the cover turned me right off.  The pig head on a stake with blood trickling down was a little off putting.  There is violence and such but no more than Hunger Games (a book that I really did enjoy) and found while I didn't care for the story I did appreciate Golding's message and themes.  Maybe having read this book was I stranded on an island I would not turn crazy and to murder.  As a quote from the book asks "What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or Savages?"  Well, if you are banned from reading it we won't know. 

k (My Novelesque Life)

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