What can we learn? Postscript.

As I considered the stories behind Banned Book Week, I became impressed by the following: that in each community there is an author trying to raise our awareness of the world that we drive through, challenging us to take our eyes off the proscribed route for a moment. That also within that community there are parents concerned enough about the welfare of the community’s children that they will sound the alarm to perceived dangers where no-one is looking. And that something as hushed as a library is where all this action lies.

I myself became aware of Banned Book Week by looking at a Tweet.  The author was Laurie Halse Anderson, who was frustrated at the fact that her books were being challenged, and had written a compelling post about the use of storytelling to convey a message.  I started this week’s discussion with an excerpt from that post.

I then read of Ellen Hopkins, who had started this week fit to be tied because a school visit she’d scheduled was cancelled because a parent of that school had challenged her book.  She came out more reasoned in Lee Wind’s interview.

I also hit Twitter, searching for the topic under the hashtag #bannedbookweek. And therein found a meaningless drone that reminded me of cable news. I found the same post over and over, increasing awareness of the week’s theme through an ever-increasing network through idealistic repetition.

If words were power, I thought, why are we limiting ourselves to the same ones?  How does saying: “It’s #bannedbookweek! Read a banned book! I’m reading…” truly compel?

Where’s the story?

2008 - Top Challenged Books

Top 5 Challenged Books - 2008

So, I’d like to end #bannedbookweek with the story.  Rather, with the first lines of the top ten most challenged stories of 2008, according to the American Library Association.

  1. “In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families.” And Tango Makes Three
  2. “Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen.”  His Dark Materials (trilogy)
  3. “SnowAngel: hey, mads! 1st day of 10th grade down the tube – wh-hoo!”  TTYL (Internet Girls series)
  4. “A boy was digging at the edge of the garden when he saw a big toe.”  Scary Stories (series)
  5. “Ultima came to stay with us the summer I was almost seven. When she came the beauty of the llano unfolded before my eyes, and the gurgling waters of the river sang to the hum of the turning earth. ” Bless Me, Ultima
  6. “Dear Friend: I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have.”  The Perks of Being A Wallflower
  7. “Hey people!  Ever wondered what the lives of the chosen ones are really like?”  Gossip Girl (series)
  8. “Chloe loves her Uncle Bobby.”  Uncle Bobby’s Wedding
  9. “I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975.” The Kite Runner
  10. “Emily is pretty sure her life couldn’t be any more complicated.”  Flashcards of My Life

Now. Go. Read a bit more.  Discuss.

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