1. What is your favorite banned book?
‘Wild nights are my glory,’ the unearthly stranger told them. I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. I shall just sit down for a moment and pop on my boots and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, pet, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.’ ”
2. Did you ever sneak around to read a banned book? Have a good story? Or do you have a horror story associated with a banned book? i.e. got caught and grounded…
My mother was always great about what I read, and she really trusted my judgement in books. For awhile, she didn’t like me reading the Goosebumps series because she thought they might scare me and because of our belief in the paranormal, but I still read them. I went through a whole horror phase in junior high-ish where I read Goosebumps, books on witches, and werewolves, and vampires.
But my most memorable story comes from high school when a girl in my class got a hold of Forever… by Judy Blume. I think I was a freshman or sophomore, and I remember it was a big deal because of the content in the novel. (If you haven’t read the book, it’s about teenage sexual awakening. It’s not as graphic as say, Fifty Shades of Gray, but it does have a couple of sex scenes. We had dubbed it “The Sex Book”) Anyway, I remember she ordered the book through interlibrary loan because it wasn’t on the shelves in our library, having been banned, and it caused quite a stir for the week it was within the school walls. I remember the whispers starting about “The Sex Book” and then it was passed around from girl to girl during lunch period and study hall. When it finally got around to my group of friends, we crowded around it in the library corner flipping the pages where the scenes were. It was at that point that I felt terrible for reading it mainly because I figured my mom wouldn’t have approved at the time just because it was a little old for me. I knew I wasn’t quite ready for that material.
Somewhere along that week, a mother figured out what was going and Forever… was sent back. I never knew who did (it wasn’t my mom because I never told her this story!)
Since then I’ve read Forever… and thought the content might be a little racy for a 15 year old, I would never ban it. I might caution my someday daughter, as well as my students, to wait to read it until they are older because I do think 15 is a little young, but it’s one of those novels that would answer questions for a a girl not willing to talk to someone about the issues at hand.
3. Why do you feel promoting a banned book is important?
Most of my philosophy behind books stands in this one line–I believe in the power of story. Books taught me so much more as a kid than I could ever learn in school. Books brought me friends, escape, beautiful worlds, and inspired my imagination. I think–no, I know–that books offer so much to those who read them and fall into them. Their stories hold truths, friends, help, questions, release, love, and answers. When we ban books, we’re saying to readers that words and stories hold nothing of importance. We are saying that we do not believe in our own laws of free speech. And most importantly, we are denying reader’s–our own children–their intellectual freedom and possibly the one place they might find the answer they were looking for.
I was one of those kids, and I still am, that went to my mother for a lot things when I needed to talk or had questions. But I also know that I found some answers in books that I read or if I was having trouble in school and didn’t believe that my mom would really understand me, I was able to pick up A Wrinkle in Time and realize I wasn’t the only different girl out their. Not every kid is going to talk to their parent, or a teacher, or a counselor when they have issues, but books can be that comfort we seek. If we ban books because of their content, a child might never connect to someone. Even if they connect to a fictional character, they are still connecting to someone. That story becomes a powerful thing in their life. It might even change it.
Book talk: Have you read A Wrinkle in Time? In school? On your own? What are your thoughts? Worth the ban or not?