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Thread: Challenged Books

  1. #1
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    Post Challenged Books

    Recently the American Library Association released its list of "Top 10 Most Frequently Challenged Books 2000." You can read more about it at:
    http://www.ala.org/Content/Navigatio..._1990-2000.htm

    But here's the "Top 10 Most Frequently Challenged Books 1990-2000." Comments? Opinions?
    1. Harry Potter--JK Rowling
    Annotation: Harry Potter, orphaned when his parents are killed, enrolls in a school for wizards. (All "Harry Potter" books are included in this category.)
    2. The Agony of Alice--Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Annotation: Eleven-year-old, motherless Alice decides she needs a gorgeous role model who does everything right; and when placed in homely Mrs. Plotkins's class she is greatly disappointed until she discovers it's what people are inside that counts.
    3. The Chocolate War--Robert Cormier
    Annotation: A high school freshman discovers the devastating consequences of refusing to join in the school's annual fund raising drive and arousing the wrath of the school bullies.
    4. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings--Maya Angelou
    Annotation: Superbly told, with the poet's gift for language and observation, Angelou's autobiography of her childhood in Arkansas. An unforgettable memoir of growing up black in the 1930s and 1940s in a tiny Arkansas town where Angelou's grandmother's store was the heart of the community and white people seemed as strange as aliens from another planet.
    5. Taming the Star Runner--S. E. Hinton
    Annotation: Travis is the coolest kid in school, but no one seems to notice him. The only person that interests him is Casey. She's the bravest person Travis has ever met, brave enough to try to tame her horse, Star Runner. But Travis and Star Runner are two of a kind: creatures not meant to be tamed.
    6. The Adventures of Captain Underpants (Captain Underpants Series)--Dave Pilkey
    Annotation: When George and Harold hypnotize their principal into thinking that he is the superhero Captain Underpants, he leads them to the lair of the nefarious Dr. Diaper, where they must defeat his evil robot henchmen.
    7. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn--Mark Twain
    Annotation: Huckleberry Finn, rebel against school and church, casual inheritor of gold treasure, rafter of the Mississippi, and savior of Jim the runaway slave, is the archetypal American maverick. Fleeing the respectable society that wants to “sivilize” him, Huck Finn shoves off with Jim on a rhapsodic raft journey down the Mississippi River. As Huck learns about love, responsibility, and how to make moral choices, the trip becomes a metaphoric voyage through his own soul, culminating in the glorious moment when he decides to “go to hell” rather than return Jim to slavery.
    8. Bridge to Terabithia--Katherine Paterson, Donna Diamond (Illustrator)
    Annotation: The life of a ten-year-old boy in rural Virginia expands when he becomes friends with a newcomer who subsequently meets an untimely death trying to reach their hideaway, Terabithia, during a storm.
    9. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry--Mildred D. Taylor
    Annotation: A black family living in Mississippi during the Depression of the 1930s is faced with prejudice and discrimination which its children do not understand. Why is the land so important to Cassie's family? It takes the events of one turbulent year--the year of the night riders and the burnings, the year a white girl humiliates Cassie in public simply because she is black--to show Cassie that having a place of their own is the Logan family's lifeblood. It is the land that gives the Logans their courage and pride, for no matter how others may degrade them, the Logans possess something no one can take away.
    10. Julie of the Wolves-- Jean Craighead George, John Schoenherr (Illustrator)
    Annotation: To her small Eskimo village, she is known as Miyax; to her friend in San Francisco, she is Julie. When the village is not longer safe for her, Miyax runs away. But she soon finds herself lost in the Alaskan wilderness, without food, without even a compass to guide her. Slowly she is accepted by a pack of Arctic wolves, and she grows to love them as though they were family. With their help, and drawing on her father's teachings, Miyax struggles day by day to survive. But the time comes when she must leave the wilderness and choose between the old ways and the new. Which will she choose? For she is Miyax of the Eskimos - but Julie of the Wolves.


    FYI, here is the list of "The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2001."
    “[I]t’s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be
    written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship.
    As always, young readers will be the real losers.” — Judy Blume

    1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
    2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
    3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
    4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
    5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
    8. Forever by Judy Blume
    9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
    10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
    12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
    13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
    15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
    16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
    17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
    18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
    19. Sex by Madonna
    20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
    21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
    22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
    23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
    24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
    25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
    26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
    27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
    28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
    29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
    30. The Goats by Brock Cole
    31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
    32. Blubber by Judy Blume
    33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
    34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
    35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
    36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
    37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
    39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
    41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
    43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
    44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
    45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
    46. Deenie by Judy Blume
    47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
    48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
    49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
    50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
    51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
    52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
    54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
    55. Cujo by Stephen King
    56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
    57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
    58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
    59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
    60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
    61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
    62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
    63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
    64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
    65. Fade by Robert Cormier
    66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
    67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
    68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
    69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
    70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    71. Native Son by Richard Wright
    72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
    73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
    74. Jack by A.M. Homes
    75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
    76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
    77. Carrie by Stephen King
    78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
    79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
    80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
    81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
    82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
    83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
    84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
    85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
    86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
    87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
    88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
    89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
    90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
    91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
    92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
    93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
    94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
    95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
    96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
    97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
    98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
    99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
    100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

    The list is based on 6,364 challenges reported to or recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom, as compiled by the Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association. (See Background Information: 1990–2000 under The Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000.) The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom does not claim comprehensiveness in recording challenges. Research suggests that for each challenge reported there are as many as four or five which go unreported.

    What I find interesting in the "100" list is that at #40 we find "What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girlss: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters," but it's not until #64 that people get upset about "What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons." Guess more people are worried about girls finding out about sexual reproduction than boys

    I know this is a lot of info, especially with the first big competition coming up (whee!), but what do others think? Any major surprises on either list?
    Rgirl

  2. #2
    TriGirl Rinkside
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    Does a challenge mean that someone is challenging the library's right to carry the book? The whole idea of censorship makes me ill. For the life of me, I can't understand the challenges made against some of those books. I can't imagine a proper library without To Kill a Mockingbird, Brave New World, A Light in the Attick, Of Mice and Men, Cather in the Rye, a Wrinkle in Time and on, and on ...

    Are you there God? It's me, Margaret ... now that's a book I remember well. Fourth grade, one of my friends checked it out from the school library, and we all read it ... and all started reciting "I must, I must, I must increase ..." with the appropriate arm movements. Now, that's good literature:D

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    thanks, you gave me some good books to look into :D

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    WOW...how quickly things become offensive and potentially detrimental to a child's well-being! I read several of those books during my pre-college school years in the 80s and early 90s. How can they be so terrible now? Ohh...maybe that's why I'm a satanic bigot with an unhealthy fixation on death! (LOL...I'm not people!) Please...quit blaming books and start looking at the parents. I can understand barring things such as "How to Build A High Powered Explosive From Nickels and a Shoe Horn" or "The 10 Essential Steps to a Successful Ritual Sacrifice" from a school library, but "Huck Finn"...come on. These "challengers" seem to have WAY too much free time on their hands and I would also assume lack an educational background that would allow them to understand exactly what these books mean.

  5. #5
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    Originally posted by Seonaid920
    thanks, you gave me some good books to look into :D
    Ah, Seonaid, you picked up on my secret ulterior motive I really want GSers to read some of these books so they can all become satanic bigots with unhealthy fixations on dealth like Bronzeisgolden. Don't deny it BG; takes one to know one

    Tharrtell: I think Judy Blume created one of the most oft-repeated lines in all of literature with "We must, we must..." Don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it. And I don't know any woman who hasn't read at least one of her books. Usually if they read one, they looked for others. There were so many books with boy protagonists, that I think Judy Blume almost single-handedly created literature for adolescent girls. With all the divorce and other problems kids have, for people to want to take away library access to books that really speak to what teens and preteens need is to me just insanity. But then I think all censorship is insanity. Of course I don't mean any book in school libraries--porn, for example. But that's just appropriateness and common sense. Most of these books have been around for decades. Kids weren't doing mass shootings at school when kids read a lot more, call me stoopid but I just don't get the connection. And if any of these books did cause problems, great, get rid of the book, get rid of the problem. If only it were that easy.

    I think it was Kurt Vonnegut who said, "When they start burning books, you can bet they will be burning people next."
    Rgirl

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Warning -- This post contains some very offensive language.

    (There, that ought to scare the kids away.)

    Devil's advocate, anyone? This is why Huckleberry Finn should not be on the reading list for Middle School and Junior High School students in the U.S. (despite being arguably the best American novel ever written). The plot of Huckelberry Finn revolves around the central character "[color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color] Jim." Not only is [color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color] Jim so-named and so-called throughout the book, but he "speaks" phonetically in 1860s Missouri "[color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color] talk."

    Suppose that you are one of only a few black students in a so-called "integrated" middle school. Or suppose you are in an all-black school. Or an all-white one. What is the point of deliberately throwing gasoline on this particular fire? No need to make a big deal of it, but why not substitute one of a dozen equally fine works of literature that won't cause anger and resentment, not to mention actual playground fist fights, to break out?

    Well, we can argue that no one in America needs to read Huckleberry Finn to encounter hateful racial epithets. Indeed, maybe the classroom is the best place to bring these issues out into the open.

    But I think this argument is more appropriate for the college classroom, when students are better equipt both to appreciate the book as a work of literature and to handle the emotions evoked by reading of that time and place in American history. In general I am not a big fan of using the K-12 classroom for discussion of societal issues. The teachers have enough of a challenge just to get the kids through the three R's.

    Mathman. (Where is that little devil icon when you need him?)

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    A great "devil's advocate" post, Mathman. You certainly made an impressive and valid point. The only thing I disagree with is your idea that discussing societal issues before college is not necessary. Kids aren't blind and they can see the trends and attitudes around them. To ignore these issues and leave them for a later date would be a disservice in my opinion. Certainly, college is the place for indepth analysis of these issues, but the groundwork should be put down much earlier. What about the kids that don't attend college? My experience as a student teacher (so far, LOL!) has shown me that you should never underestimate kids. They realize what is going on around them and often are eager to discuss it. I also think that by actively discussing broad societal issues, you help to curb misunderstanding that could eventually lead to a narrow, skewed point of view. But, that is just my view as a social studies teacher in training!

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    TriGirl Rinkside
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    Bronzeisgolden - I agree completely. Actually, I think the younger the better - at least at the point where the issues can be comprehended and discussed in a mature manner. Depending on upbringing, kids might not know what is wrong with some of the language in Huck Finn. That's a frightening thought, but a true one. Education is essential, and I think waiting until college might be too late - especially as not everyone goes go college.

  9. #9
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    Mathman,
    Actually, these books were challenged for just being in the school libraries, not in the school curriculum. If they were in the school curriculum, I still disagree with your DA point, even though of course I shall defend to the death your right to say it--except I'M the DA around here, buddy! J/K. After all, these kids are listening to songs by Eminem, 50 Cent, R Kelly. and others that have very explicit racial language. They see movies with the same thing. And they get it either in their homes or neighborhoods. Exposure to the word "[color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color]" and racially charged language is everywhere. In "Huck Finn" Twain shows the fallacy of separating and judging people based on race. The songs to which I'm referring often do nothing but promote prejudice. If, and the key word is IF, these books represented middle school or Jr. High curricula, then I think a book such as "Huck Finn" would be an excellent tool (okay, a very small tool relative to everything that's out there) to counteract racial prejudice from all sectors of the culture.

    Thirty-forty years ago, I think your point about middle school and Jr. High being to young for these subjects would be correct. It was a different time. But today you've got suburban white kids dressing and talking "black," that is, in the style of gangsta rap, and addressing each other as "[color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color]." So even if you are the only black kid in an all white class, I think that in general, it's a different environment.

    To me there is no valid case for any of the books on these lists to be yanked from school libraries. As for being in the school curricula, since race is a part of everything that happens in our society, IMO, I think books like "Huck Finn" are more important than ever, no matter what the racial make-up of the school is. Personally, I'd want "Huck Finn" to be taught along with books that reflect modern attitudes toward race, as well as one of the many great works by black writers. But the point is, IMO, no school library should be without "Huck Finn" or any of the books on the list. Now if you want to talk about "Motel Sex Club," there I'd agree--definitely inappropriate for school librairies to loan out my copy
    Rgirl
    PS Thanks, though, for giving the DA view. Always good to have one

  10. #10
    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    All good literature teaches people that life is very complex. We can start from Bible -- Eve goes against G-d's wishes, Cain kills Able; then it gets worse - the very rightious Abraham allows pharaoh to sleep with his wife; Jacob lies to both his brother and his father only to becaome the great Patriarch, etc. There is a reason those stories are in the Bible (regardless of whether you believe it was written by G-d or men). It is to show us that nothing in life is black-and-white; that good people can do bad things; that bad people can change and become good.

    Taking all of those "challenged" books out of kids' reading would paint a very erroneous picture of the world. They serve an all too important role in the literature.

    MathaMan, as to your point. I think teachers should be very sensitive to the needs of a particular classroom. Huck Finn is a very non-racist book. A good teacher should teach it by pointing it out, and by emphasizing the difference between the societal standards and the morality that Twain is trying to convey.

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    I have taught Huck Finn for the past six years to eighth graders. Before we begin reading, we do a study of Mark Twain and the students have already begun learning about slavery and pre-Civil War America in history class. The students learn that he and his wife were very vocal abolitionists. Huck Finn was written as a satire of many different groups, one of which were racist southerns who were portrayed as very ignorant (and down right dumb!). He purposely uses the N word many times for shock value. This is all explained to my students, but they are always VERY shocked when they read it; it makes them very uncomfortable, which is a GOOD thing. They always ask how people could have thought and acted that way. This is the effect Mark Twain wanted. The book is wonderful, but it must be taught correctly or else the whole purpose of the book is lost and people continue to think it is racist.

    Almost all the books we read at my middle school are on the challenge list - what a shame (that they are challenged, not that we read them).

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    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    Lucy, thank you very much for your "view from the other side". It's helpful to hear such insites!

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    You're very welcome!

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    I'm still working my way through my favorite psychological forensic reading list.

    Incidentally, Maya Angelou is next on my list. I was absolutely captivated by the poem she wrote for (and recited) at President Clinton's inauguration. For those interested, you can find it here.

    I also recently finished Uncle Tom's Cabin - again. I was too young to appreciate it the first time I read it. It was funny to learn that during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe at the White House and referred to her as "the little lady who started this big war."

    ....now on to Huck Finn......

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    Custom Woman
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    Lucy, that's a great post. Sounds like you teach at a great school. I loved Pitchka's point too about literature teaching that life is complex. How very true, which is exactly why so amny people hate it and would not read it unless they had teachers like Lucy who presented it to them in a context they can relate to. (Don't mean to be beating up on Mathman here. But not to worry, he's get us back on a math thread)

    So Paula, by forensic psychologiy to you mean stuff like "The Stranger Beside Me" by Ann Rule about working for a suicide hotline with Ted Bundy? When I was in college I lived about four or five blocks away from Ted Bundy, but I couldn't get any publishers interested in "The Stranger About Four or Five Blocks Away From Me." Seriously, I'm addicted to "Forensic Files" on Court TV and am fascinated by the profiling stuff.

    BTW, a freind sent me the limited edition book of Maya Angelou's poem for Clinton's inaugaration. Thanks for sharing it. They don't get much better than that when politics are involved. Speaking of which, if you haven't ever or in a while, read the Gettysburg Address. They broke the mold with Old Abe.
    Rgirl

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