Books have been banned since the beginning of the concept of written stories. In fact, some may even go back to the written word, where some legends that have been passed down orally from generation to generation were banned by the Kingdoms they originated from. Either way, for as long as there has been a story to tell, there have been those trying to keep that story from us.
During my research, I’ve found that most Banned and Contested books have reached that category based upon this vague concept: “Conflicting with the values of the community.” What exactly does that mean? Whose values are we speaking of? The people or the government? My guess is that it’s not the people, but instead those who are in control of the people. No government wants the people getting their hands on The Anarchist Cookbook, for example… would they?
So, I have complied a list of the Top 5 Most Ridiculous Reasons For Banning Books that I have found in my research. Enjoy the sheer insanity of these!
#5 = Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl
Well, Anne Frank has been banned for many reasons, ranging from the sexuality of her writing, discussing masturbation, and questioning her rapidly changing body. These are all normal things for a blooming adolescent to write in a diary, and certainly normal questions for them to have.
While these are certainly reasons that could be understood, one reason I found stood out to me.
In 1983, the Alabama Textbook Committee decided to ban Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl for… drum roll please… “being a real downer”. Yup. Being a “real downer”. I guess that they didn’t want their readers going anywhere near something that may evoke anything but glitter bomb emotions. It’s simply disturbing that this ban went through for this reason.
#4 – A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
In 1985, the Cunningham Elementary School in Beloit, WA banned this book. It’s reason? Well, many schools had already used the vague “values” clause to keep this book out of classrooms. Cunningham Elementary decided to stray from the pack. According to their Board of Education, this book was banned due to the fact that it “encourages children to break dishes so they won’t have to dry them”. Yup. That was their reason. Someone took one scene in the book so seriously that it caused this book to be banned in this district. Let me say this again – they really thought it would cause children to start breaking dishes instead of drying them just because they read this book. Um…. Facepalm.
#3 – Little Red Riding Hood by Charles Perrault
We all know this classic story from the 17th Century. If you don’t know the story – SPOILERS – A little girl travels through the forest with a hand-basket to visit her grandmother. The grandmother and the little girl get eaten by a wolf. The end. That’s pretty disturbing in itself. The scene where the wolf takes the place of the grandmother in order to eat the little girl is quite graphic and I’m sure that would be the reason for banning it, right? The violence of it?
WRONG. In California, Little Red Riding Hood had been banned for “carrying a bottle of wine in her basket”. Not the consumption of little girl or an elderly woman by a wolf. Not the wolf dressing as the grandmother in order to devour the little girl. No. It was because she was carrying wine. How dare a minor child have access to wine before the age of 21?! Ban that book! Double Facepalm
#2 – Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
An adorable children’s tale about a little girl who wants to be a writer, and so watches her classmates for inspiration. When they find her diary full of information and observations about classmates (some are not so nice), they go on the defensive against Harriet. Harriet then decides to “punish” each and every child for treating her badly over this find. Each child gets a special “punishment” from Harriet. Is that what the banning is about? Bullying? Don’t bully your fellow classmates?
Again, no. At least, not against children. In 1980s Ohio, Harriet the Spy was banned for “teaching children how to lie, spy, backtalk, and worse”. So, in a way it could be construed as anti-bullying, if the adults were not thinking of themselves instead of the children when they came up with their reasoning. They believed this book would cause rioting of children against their parents. Humph. I don’t recall reading anything about that. Did you?
#1 = Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
A book for babies and toddlers, I know this book well. It was one of my youngest son’s favorites for several years. A book that simply travels from animal to animal and eventually ends with a teacher and classroom of children. What could possibly be heinous enough that this cardboard book would get banned?
Mistaken identity, that’s what. Bill Martin, Jr. was the writer of Brown Bear. A man named Bill Martin (no relation) wrote a book called “Ethical Marxism” using communist and socialist themes. This mix-up should have never happened, and is utterly ridiculous – making it the top most ridiculous reason a book was ever banned.
Welcome to Banned Books Week! Leave any comments you may have down below and don’t forget to subscribe in the upper right portion of the page! Until next time!