A few notes on Banned Books Week

1) Thanks to BlueHerald for providing a link to this great, old Onion story:

Nation’s Teens Disappointed By Banned Books (note: it’s naughty and should probably be banned.)

2) Don’t ban Huck Finn, but do ban Tom Sawyer Abroad.*

3) The Chocolate War** shouldn’t be taught to a entire class of kids at the same time. It’s a disturbing book that by its nature must be gotten through as an individual experience. Otherwise you risk a Monty Python-type scene of the entire class saying in unison, “I’m an individual. I will take the road not taken. I will eat a peach.”

*Just kidding. But it’s a shame that some kids (like myself) have been forced to read it. Actually, they probably shouldn’t be forced to read Huck Finn either.

** I was a big Cormier fan when I was a kid, but now I wonder if the dude didn’t wallow in the dark side a bit much. This book for instance sets kids up to look at high school as me vs. everyone else, when in truth it’s not usually quite so bad. In real life, no student really cares if another student sells chocolate or not. (My apologies if I’ve harped on this before.)

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2 Responses

  1. Apparently, my ISP agrees with you that that link to the Onion should be banned. I tried to click on it and got a filter error. (I have a rather-strict filter, obviously.)

    Wow.

    Anyway … I agree with you about “The Chocolate War.” It’s really not a group novel. Very much an individual kind of thing, and it is a bit darker than reality.

  2. Thanks for the thoughts. I’m actually re-reading Huck Finn for Banned Books Week – we had it read to us in 3rd grade, actually, but I’ve also seen it taught in 8th and 9th grade, and I might have actually re-read in 8th, come to think of it. I’d lean toward teaching it to older kids these days. In 3rd grade, we were just told what we knew – there was a particular word common then that was very rude now, and we didn’t say that, but that was those times. We all got it. However, the deeper satire, historical context, and other issues would be better with an older group. I still think the scene where Huck decides he’ll go to hell for not turning in Jim – thinking he’s going against his conscience, but is really only going against society – is really quite extraordinary.

    One of the benefits of these lists is that it reminds me of the many books I still haven’t read. I never got around to The Chocolate War, actually, but did read I Am the Cheese, which is quite dark as well.

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