Friday, March 03, 2006

You can't make this stuff up....

It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry when you read something like this article about 23 books being removed from an Antelope Valley elementary school.

Removing Harry Potter with a comment such as “We want books to be things that children would be able to relate to in real life," or anyone uttering the remarkable statement "Kids identify with a personality in a book, and I think characters do not need to be negative characters,” both strike me as stuff The Onion would make up. I also cannot fathom how Clifford got to be on the removal list, particularly when the school board folk are so focused on “character” and Emily Elizabeth is always learning great lessons from that big red dog.

Still, besides urging everyone in the Antelope Valley to join the fight against this silliness, I thought I’d also show how this process of banning based on reader reports could be subverted to, perhaps, point out the absurdity of it. I suspect the following three books, with which I am "familiar with the content," would be pulled in a heartbeat based on my descriptions:

1) A mother leaves her children home alone while she runs errands. The kids allow a total stranger into the house and stand by passively as he destroys their household.

2) A young boy nearly drowns when he flees from a ferocious dragon only later to fall off a mountain. Wandering a giant city late at night, he’s unable to find his parents or his home.

3) A young girl, who repeatedly humiliates a neighborhood boy when he tries to play sports, charges her peers money to dispense psychological advice, even though she has no formal training.

Yup. Not reality! Bad messages! Negative characters! So let's pull the Cat in the Hat, remove Harold and the Purple Crayon from the shelves, and for goodness sakes, don’t let anyone read Peanuts.

OK, it probably wouldn't be effective, but I like it anyway. Got other great examples of what I now call the “banning game”? I’d love to see ‘em, though now it’s late so I gotta book.

(See other opinions on the book removal at Read Roger and As If!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am currently reading books from the ALA's 100 Most Challenged Book 1990-2000. I have started with the childrens books, since they are the most accessible at my elementary school. I am shocked by some of the choices. It makes me sad what people are unwilling to let their children read. Most recently I have read "The Giver" by Lois Lowry and "Crazy Lady" by Jane Leslie Conly. I could only hope that my children learn the positive lessons in these books.

I got the descriptions of Cat in the Hat and Peanuts, but some how I have never read Harold and the Purple Crayon.

It seems to me, the people who want to remove books due to "moral" or "character" objections are the ones whose children need those lessons the most.