Why your kid should read banned books – Salon.com – Salon

Common Sense Media

What do “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” “The Great Gatsby,” “Native Son,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Fahrenheit 451,” and “The Adventures of Captain Underpants“ have in common? At one time or other, someone has tried to ban them from classrooms and public or school libraries.

The American Library Association (ALA) — champions of free access to books and information — launched Banned Books Week in 1982 to celebrate the freedom to read. Libraries, bookstores, publishers, and teachers across the country use the week — this year it’s Sept. 24-30 — to highlight great books that people have banned and to spark a discussion about censorship. At Common Sense Media, we think reading banned books offers families a chance to celebrate reading and promote open access to ideas, both of which are keys to raising a lifelong reader.

Why do people ban books? Often it’s for religious or political reasons: An idea, a scene, or a character in the book offends their religion, sense of morality, or political view. Some folks feel they need to protect children from the cursing, morally offensive behavior, or racially insensitive language in a book. Or they think a book’s content is too violent or too sexual.

The American Revolution novel “The Red Badge of Courage“ has been banned for its graphic depictions of war. The edgy teen best-seller “The Perks of Being a Wallflower“ (Stephen Chbosky) has been banned for its descriptions of sexual behavior and alcohol and drug use. Profanity and an explicit scene featuring oral sex got “Looking for Alaska“ (John Green) on the banned list. And Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian“ has been banned for religious irreverence, discussion of masturbation, and offensive language, including the N-word.


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