I consider myself a well-adjusted adult and a contributing member of society. I have a house, a family, and a relatively steady income. I spend more hours running car pool then I do writing, sit on the school’s PTA board, and refuse to give out candy on Halloween to any teenager not dressed in a costume. In all actuality, I am the apple pie of America…boring to fault. I’m neither morally corrupt nor intractable in my ways, and yet I grew up on banned books. Devoured them. So, rather than speak about my passion for great literature or my firm belief that teens have the ability to “self-censor” what they read, I thought I’d share with you the banned books that literally built me.
THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN has the distinguished honor of being one of the most frequently challenged books in American history. Banned a short one month after its publication 1885, it has been criticized for being racially insensitive, oppressive, and propagating racism. You want to know what eleven-year-old me took away from HUCKLEBERRY FINN: compassion, loyalty, and the value of friendship. That I had to recognize my own faults and work hard to correct them. That the right path wasn’t always the easy one.
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE It is no secret that Maurice Sendak did not win over a lot of parents when his book first came out. Banned early on for promoting witchcraft and supernatural events, Sendak has been criticized for writing a book that was simply “too scary” and prompted bad behavior such as tantrums. Interestingly enough, this is the first book I recall my mother ever reading to me. And what did three-year-old me learn from that book? That my imagination was boundless. That even when I was alone, I’d never be lonely because I had the ability to dream and create entire worlds in my own mind…worlds that I would eventually pen out.~ read more ~