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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Celebrate Banned Books Week 2010

Well, kiddos, it’s that time of year again.  And what better way to kick it all off than by beginning with the Yahoo! News opinion piece Opinion: There is a time to ban books from school libraries?  Once again, Lauren Myracle is the author on trial.  Honestly, if you had told me three years ago that one of the most banned women in America would be sweet-as-peaches-on-a-vine Lauren Myracle I’d have laughed in your face.  Myracle?  Are you kidding?  And yet here we are with an opinion piece wherein a parent finds The Fashion Disaster That Changed My Life inappropriate for an elementary school library.  The book has selected quotes removed from it and the parent decides that what is inappropriate for her child is therefore inappropriate for ALL children.  And around and around it goes.  Favorite bizarre line in the piece, “Can’t we trust the ALA to look out for the kids?”  Oy.

This next video played last year, but I never got a chance to post it, doggone it.  So we’re hauling it out and playing it again.  Yay, puppets!

I was pleased to see that the article Banned Books Week: 10 banned books you might not expect was making big news rounds this week.  Honestly I don’t think there are many surprises there, but it’s worth a gander just the same.

The best way to end today, however, is to simply let author Philip Pullman have the last word.  This discussion occurred when Pullman wrote The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ.  It sums up everything I need to say today.

Thanks to Pete Hautman for the link.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Mrs Scoobers says

    Regarding the mother who did not want to explain to her fourth grade daughter what strippers do: when I was much younger, probably six or seven, I did a strip act in my neighborhood beauty pageant. Down to my bathing suit, of course. I was also aware, at that age, of a stripper named “Bubbles” who came on stage covered in balloons, and then popped them one by one. I’m sure I was a little older when I realized this is not a great way to make a living. Fourth or fifth grade seems about the time that girls can graduate from conversations about why Barbie’s physical proportions are ridiculous and why she persists as an ideal (and why boys would whistle when seeing a pair of ladies underwear stuck to you), to why some women might be forced to exploit their own bodies to make a living. Not an in-depth, down and dirty discussion of lap dancing, but a more general discussion about poverty, and about how women earn less than men and the lengths some women must go to put food on the table.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Though comments on articles online are often touch and go, I did appreciate the person who mentioned to that mother that “not wanting to have that conversation” wasn’t acceptable. Sometimes moms have to talk out uncomfortable things with their kids. Goes with the territory. Doesn’t mean you go about banning books to avoid speaking with your kids.

  2. Lauryn Miracle is in today’s Shelf Awareness speaking about book banning & her books:

  3. My husband, who’s been inundated with banned books news all weekend (my student chapter of ALA is planning an event and I’ve been mining the interwebs for relevant links), has been saying the same thing. He keeps saying, “All these people want to ban books because they don’t want to have difficult conversations with their children! That’s not parenting!” No, it’s certainly not. And really, I think a lot of challenged books give a nice opening to those kinds of conversations, which seem like they might be impossibly hard to start otherwise.

  4. No two children are alike. I have one child whose mother found Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! would upset the girl when she read it because the letters all got hurt. I have another the same age who relishes the “darker” Jack Prelutsky picture book The Wizard and loves it when I read “The King of the Cats”.

    I don’t think it’s possible to expect one child’s appropriate book to be another’s.

  5. I don’t know about this . . . I think attacking the parent/writer in question is a little close-minded and lazy.

    Maybe the mother in question is perfectly fine with having this conversation with their son or daughter, just not in fourth grade. I honestly can’t say I blame them.

    I teach 5th grade and I can’t begin to tell you what kind of reaction the passage in question from THE FASHION DISASTER THAT CHANGED MY LIFE would get . . . whooo doggies!

    I’m not saying that protesting to ban books is a good thing, but what I am saying is that I’m not entirely comfortable with those on the other side to simply say that “parents don’t want to have those conversations.” That’s a weak excuse. Many parents definitely want to have those conversations. They just want to be able to pick and choose how they have them. I don’t think they should be ridiculed for that.

    Are kids gonna hear about stripping in school in 4th and 5th grade? Of course. Probably. Somewhere. That doesn’t make them mature enough to understand WHY people strip and why others PAY to have people strip. The character in question is entering 7th grade! I really don’t think it’s too much to ask of a parent that a book featuring a girl entering 7th grade and the troubles she deals with, stays out of a 4th and 5th grade library.

  6. As an LTA student, I just have to put my two cents in. I am the parent of a 4th grader, and my rule is that she not read any books where the protagonists are considerably older. Why subject a 9 yer old to subject matter written for and about a 12 year old? That’s just ridiculous. I’m not a lazy parent but a protective one mindful of her childhood innocence, which I plan on keeping intact for as long as possible. It’s not that I don’t want to have uncomfortable conversations with my daughter, just ones that are age appropriate! Books like this have little redeeming value. My daughter will read the classics like “Sounder” and “Bridge to Terabithia” when she’s age ready.


  1. […] is getting its share of the spotlight. (For great discussions on the subject of banned books, see this, and […]