Of Mice And Men To Be Banned In Idaho?

Hailed by the Nobel prize judges in 1962 for his realism and sympathetic humour, John Steinbeck is under attack. Parents in Idaho have branded “Of Mice and Men” “neither a quality story nor a page-turner” and asked for it to be removed from classrooms. A curriculum review committee in the city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho has recommended the 1937 novella should no longer be taught in classrooms, according to the Spokesman-Review, and that ninth-graders should study it “on a voluntary, small-group basis” only. For parent Mary Jo Finney, the use of words such as “bastard” and “God damn” makes it unsuitable for 14- or 15-year-old students. After counting more than 100 “profanities,” she expressed her shock to the Spokesman-Review that “teachers actually had the audacity to have students read these profanities out loud in class”.

Steinbeck’s story of the difficulties faced by migrant fieldworkers in the Great Depression is a fixture on high-school syllabuses in the US, the UK and beyond, but since 1953 has also become one of America’s most frequently-challenged books.

In the same week, one of the novels on the American Library Association’s most recent list of banned books, “The Kite Runner” by Afghan-born Khaled Hosseini, has come under attack in North Carolina. According to the Citizen-Times, a parent in Asheville complained about the global bestseller’s language and “adult themes”. “The description of the book the teacher included mentioned that there was a rape,” said Lisa Baldwin, “but not that it was the rape of a child and it was the homosexual rape of a child, which I felt was something parents needed to know.” Baldwin also objected that Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel, “All Quiet on the Western Front” had been “removed from the curriculum without parents knowing about it”.

Hosseini’s 2003 book has been removed from classrooms until a committee at Ashville’s Reynolds High School has considered Baldwin’s complaint. It’s not yet clear if parents concerned by Hosseini’s depiction of war and chaos in Afghanistan will be reassured by Remarque’s evocation of the shock and horror of mechanised warfare in France.


The Most Banned Books of 2014


A memoir by a sexual assault survivor, a science fiction comic book and a children’s book about gay penguins were among the 10 most frequently banned or challenged books in the United States last year, according to the American Library Association, the ALA.

The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom recently released its annual “Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books,” based on over 300 reports of community members attempting to have literature removed from libraries and school curricula. The organization notes that “attempts to remove books by authors of color and books with themes about issues concerning communities of color are disproportionately challenged and banned.”

Four of the books on the list are by writers of color: “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. “Homosexuality” is listed as the reason two of the books were banned or challenged. Alexie, who is something of a veteran of book-banning attempts, took the No. 1 spot on the list this year. On his Twitter account, he indicated that his place on the list was a badge of honor: “I am the proud author of the most banned/challenged book of 2014!” he tweeted.

The top 10 most banned and challenged books of 2014:

1. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie. Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying.”
2. “Persepolis,” by Marjane Satrapi. Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions.”
3. “And Tango Makes Three,” Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda.”
4. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison. Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues.”
5. “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris. Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.
6. “Saga,” by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Reasons: Anti-family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
7. “The Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini. Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence.
8. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky. Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation.”
9. “A Stolen Life,” Jaycee Dugard. Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
10. “Drama,” by Raina Telgemeier. Reasons: sexually explicit.

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Why Some Find “The Giver” So Controversial


Since its release in 1993, The Giver has been one of the most controversial books in American schools. Between 1990 and 1999, The Giver ranked 11th on the list of the books most frequently requested for removal. In the 2000s, it was 23rd, just two spots below To Kill a Mockingbird.

The Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), which maintains a database of attempts to remove books from schools, reports that since 1990 they have recorded over 11,000 separate instances of what they call “challenges,” (attempts to remove or restrict materials). For The Giver just under one-third of all challenges (for which the outcome was reported) resulted in a removal. The state that has seen the most attempts to remove The Giver is Texas, but the book has also been challenged in Massachusetts, Washington, and other states all over the country.

The most frequently cited reasons to challenge The Giver have been “Violence” and claims that the book is “Unsuited to the Age Group”—in other words, the book is too dark for children.

The Giver has not seen any recent uptick in challenges, but given the movie’s summer release, there will probably be more challenges. The OIF reports that last year the top three most challenged books were Captain Underpants, The Bluest Eye, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

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John Green’s Books To Racy To Read?


First it was Florida, then Wisconsin. John Green’s books – (though not “The Fault in Our Stars”) — have been coming under fire from parents.
In Pasco County, Fla., Green’s young adult novel “Paper Towns” was removed from an eighth-grade summer reading list after a parent complained about its content. Joanne Corcoran’s 13-year-old daughter “came to her mother asking her the definition of ‘masturbation,'” the Tampa Bay Times reports. “Corcoran further spotted F-bombs and references to teen sex.”
“Paper Towns” was rapidly removed from the reading list, a move that attracted the attention of censorship opponents, including the National Coalition Against Censorship. The book has been restored to the list.
Meanwhile, in Waukesha, Wis., parents tried to remove another of Green’s novels, “Looking for Alaska,” from school shelves, complaining the sexual content of “Looking for Alaska” was too mature for middle and high school students. As a local TV news station reported, they think the book was “too racy to read.”
Local school officials disagreed: they decided that “Looking for Alaska” will remain in the schools. Earlier this year, parents in Strasburg, Colo., challenged both books. Letters of support sent by more than 1,000 of Green’s readers and fans may have helped sway the school board, which voted 3-2 to allow “Looking for Alaska” and “Paper Towns” to remain.

Show Sept 28th ~ books with teens at their core


“Save Yourself” by Kelly Braffet
“Double Feature” by Owen King
“The Wicked Girls” by Alex Marwood
Days of Blood and Starlight” by Laini Taylor
“Dodger” by Terry Pratchett
Kelly Braffet is the author of “Save Yourself,” a book Dennis Lahane called “an electrifying tomahawk missile of a thriller.”
Tune Into the Program For:
A look at books with teens at their core, great reading for anyone who has a teen in their lives, or who remembers those incredibly challenging years. And, Elaine offers up a tribute to Banned Books Week.