Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States. The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings.
I’ve looked over the list more than a few times lately, and every time I do I’m shocked at how many of the books I’ve read and loved that are on it. Today I’m going to share a few of the children’s books that my family and I have enjoyed.
And Tango Makes Three, written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, is a true story of a penguin family living in New York City’s Central Park Zoo. This book has been on the top ten list of most frequently challenged books every year since 2006. That’s five years in a row, for a relatively short and sweet story about two penguins. It just so happens that Roy and Silo are a little bit different than the other couples, and need a bit of help starting their family. This assistance comes from of a zookeeper, who gives them an egg to nurture. The two male penguins show themselves to be outstanding parents and role models to Tango, their baby. The 32-page book is beautifully illustrated and is truly an enduring love story told in a very thoughtful way. My six year-old adores this one, and we love reading it to her.
The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling has not actually made the list of top ten most challenged books since 2003, but I had to mention it here. These books reintroduced reading to a generation of children (and adults). They are fun, imaginative, and highly readable. I know they’ve created a huge merchandising craze (my daughter will be the ecstatic recipient of Hogwarts robes, and a Gryffidnor-colored scarf and beanie at her birthday party this weekend), but I don’t think that detracts from the books at all. Yes, they have some magic in them, and characters die…but Rowling told her stories well. And I’m all for anything that fosters a love of reading! In fact, I’m reading a chapter a night to my daughter, and I love that she looks forward to it as much as she does. She reads some of it to me, and can’t wait to get in bed to get started.
The Captain Underpants series makes the list as well, as recently as 2005. For the life of me, I can’t figure this one out, unless the complaints are of the “unsuitable for intended age group” variety. Yes, as people should guess from the title, the book has bathroom humor. It is for younger boys, however, and traditionally that is a difficult group to get interested in reading. Why not try to relate to them on their level? I’ve read a couple of these, and they made me laugh. I won’t hesitate to share these with both of my kids when they are old enough.
I think this is an important key to book: a parent should take an interest in what their child reads. I don’t automatically dismiss a book because I’ve heard negative things about it. I read it for myself, and find discussion topics that will stimulate conversation and learning.
What’s on the list of banned books that you’ve shared with your children? Do you think the books deserve their spots on the list? I’d love to hear what you think – feel free to leave a comment!