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Education Last!

I love this story from Kenya: Archbishop Says Ban Book From Schools

Catholic Archbiship Ndingi Mwana'a Nzeki has advised that a book by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. A Man of the People is a 40-year-old book that deals with politics and corruption. It foreshadowed the 1966 Nigerian coups. That, of course, is something young people in Kenya should not be told about.

According to the Archbishop, Kenyan schools should only allow books that set good examples, not those that may have a "negative influence" on young readers.

...the most important aspect in educating children is "character formation" first, followed by discipline and, lastly, education.

Especially if by educating them you put nasty thoughts in their heads. You know, social justice...free thinking...that sort of rubbish. And, you know, people have to be protected from this knowledge crap. It's upsetting to society.

"Vietnam was the first war ever fought without any censorship. Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind." --Gen. William C. Westmoreland, 1982



Cormier Book Gets Pulled From High School

Baldwin City Signal: Board requests review of ninth grade book

A decision to pull a controversial young-adult novel from a freshman class until it could be determined whether it was appropriate instructional material was supported by the Baldwin Board of Education Monday. In a 5-2 vote, the school board voted against returning copies of "We All Fall Down" to the ninth grade orientation class at Baldwin High School until a committee reviews the Robert Cormier novel and decides whether it should remain part of the curriculum.


SciFi Classics Challenged

From the Rio Grande Valley of Texas comes word of challenges to Huxley and Heinlein. Apparently, Huxley's Brave New World and Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land are "pornographic".

One of the misconceptions about Banned Books Week, I think, is that it is an alarmist overreaction to a nonexistant threat...that somehow books are being burned under our noses and no one is doing anything about it. However, I don't see it that way at all. I see it as an opportunity to celebrate the fact that we don't have wide-scale book-banning or rampant government censorship in the United States. It celebrates the present, where school boards and librarians (despite my snarky Twain quote) are holding back a growing tide of paranoia about freedom of thought and expression. It remembers the past, because we have not always enjoyed those freedoms in this country. And it cautions against the future, when those freedoms could be quickly taken away by simply ignoring them and giving in to the comfort of "safe" thought and easy acquiescence to the majority. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, would you rather fight for your freedom now--when it's easily won--or later, when you are surrounded and have no chance of winning?

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell



Free Banned Books!

Unfortunately, I did not get off the ground fast enough to tell you about the September 21 BookCrossing event for Banned Books Week. Bookcrossing.com, in case you're not familiar with it, is an organization that encourages you to leave a free book in a public place. The finder reads it, logs a journal entry, and passes it along in the same method. On Sunday, they planned the following special book release event:

RELEASE ZONE: On the steps of your local city hall (city government office)
RELEASE METHOD: A well-labeled book, ideally from the 100 Most-Challenged list, left on or near the steps, and protected from the elements as needed. You might get creative by "hanging" the book from a tree limb, or "jailing" it inside a small cage, etc. Use your imagination, and try to take pictures!
RELEASE TIME: Sunday, September 21st, at sunset wherever you live.

But just because you didn't do it on Sunday, that doesn't mean you can't do it any time during the week. Free a banned book!



Jump Ship to Freedom

AUTHOR: James Lincoln Collier and Christoper Collier
ISBN: 0440443237
Plot Summary: Daniel Arabus and his mother are slaves in the house of Captain Ivers of Connecticut. Since Daniel's father fought in the Revolution and saved up enough money, by law, the Arabus family should be free. But Daniel's father is dead, and Mrs. Ivers has stolen the money. When Daniel steals it back, a furious Captain Ivers puts him on the next ship bound for the West Indies--and certain slavery. Does he dare jump ship in New York? And then what?
Complaints: Violence, offensive language, racism
Challenged at the Nathan Hale Middle School in Crestwood, IL (1996) because it "was damaging to the self-esteem of young black students".
Solonor Says Ban It Because: Yeah, having a strong, young black hero fight his way out of slavery has to be tough on the old self-esteem.
Links:
Profiles in Connecticut Black History



The Terrorist

AUTHOR: Caroline Cooney
ISBN: 0590228544
Plot Summary: 16-year-old Laura, an American living in London, tries to find the people responsible for her brother's death in a terrorist bombing.
Word from the mouse: Barely forty pages in and I already had tears in my eyes. The characters barely had time to introduce themselves and already I felt the pain. The endearing memories of items and words. Full Review
Complaints: Violence, offensive language, occult themes, racism
Challenged Coppell, TX, for religious content. It was retained.
Solonor Says Ban It Because: Let's be sensitive now. Just because people are blowing up other people, it doesn't mean we need to read about it.
Links:
Teenreads.org-The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney



The Headless Cupid

AUTHOR: Zilpha Keatley Snyder
ISBN: 0440435072
Plot Summary: David and his three younger siblings are introduced to the world of the occult when they meet their new step-sister.
Complaints: Occult themes
Retained in the Grand Haven, MA, school libraries in 1990 after a parent objected to the books because they "introduce children to the occult and fantasy about immoral acts. Challenged at the Hays, Kans. Public Library (1989) because the book "could lead young readers to embrace satanism." Retained in the Grand Haven, Mich. School libraries (1990) after a parent objected to the book because it "introduces children to the occult and fantasy about immoral acts." The Newbery Award-winning book was retained on the approved reading list at Matthew Henson Middle School in Waldorf, Md. (1991) despite objections to its references to witchcraft. Challenged in the Escondido, Calif. School (1992) because it contains references to the occult.
Solonor Says Ban It Because: I'm running out of logical arguments for you people, so I'll just say "Monkeys". Monkeys. Monkeys. Monkeys. Did that work? (That's got to be as good an argument as the complaining parents made, eh?)
Links:
Zilpha Keatley Snyder



The View From The Cherry Tree

AUTHOR: Willo Davis Roberts
ISBN: 0689717849
Plot Summary: A thriller for kids. From his favorite cherry tree, Rob sees a murder. But when he tries to tell his family, no one believes him.
Complaints: Violence, Inappropriate to age
Solonor Says Ban It Because: It's too scary. I hope everyone always believes everything I tell them!
Links:
Unlocking the Doors to Motivation



How To Eat Fried Worms

AUTHOR: Thomas Rockwell
ISBN: 0440445450
Plot Summary: A kids book about two boys that make a silly bet about eating 15 worms in 15 days.
Complaints: Inappropriate to age
Solonor Says Ban It Because: To quote Bill the Cat: "Oop! Ack! Phtew!"
Links:
How to Eat Fried Worms--A 10-year-old's Perspective
Iowa State University's Tasty Insect Recipes



Girls and Sex

AUTHOR: Wardell Pomeroy
ISBN: 0385302517
Plot Summary: A girl's guide to sex, including the physical, emotional and ethical aspects. It includes detailed information about anatomy, reproductive systems and the consequences of sexual relationships.
Complaints: Sexual themes
A parent of a child in a Prince George, Canada, school challenged "Boys and Sex" due to its content of "deviant sexual activity." The book was removed from the school library in April 1984, but was later returned. "Girls and Sex" was also challenged in June 1984.
Solonor Says Ban It Because: Another repeat. Makes ya wonder, though. Why's "Boys and Sex" #58, while "Girls and Sex" is only #95? Less sex? Less offensive? Or just 'cause it's girls?
Links:
Homewood Public Library Parents Booklists--Sex Education



The Drowning of Stephan Jones

AUTHOR: Bette Greene
ISBN: 0440226953
Plot Summary: Carla Wayland's dream of being with the 'in' crowd comes true when she starts dating the popular Andy Harris--a hateful, fearmonger who torments a recently arrived gay couple. When Andy's harassment leads to the death of one of the men, Carla must choose where she stands.
Complaints: Sexual themes, offensive language, violence, homosexuality
The book was removed from the Barron(Wis.) School District in 1998. Banned from the Mascenic RegionalHigh School in Ipswich (N.H.) in 1995. Removed from the curriculum and school library shelves in Boling (Tex.) in 1993. Pulled from the libraries of Horry County, SC, middle and high schools at the behest of a lone objector. The superintendent of schools banned the book after a resident who had once been expelled from school for writing a profane poem, objected to the noteworthy novel for its "vulgarity and profanity." Three books (this one, plus "The Education of Harriet Hatfield" by Mary Sarton and "Maurice" by E.M. Forster, which treat homosexuality in various ways, were removed from a regional high school. The novels' purchase was financed by a grant that teacher Penny Culliton received and was approved by the school superintendent and principal. However, shortly after a local newspaper reported that Culliton was involved with a lesbian and gay support group for young people, the books were found unsuitable and were banned. Maurice and The Education of Harriet Hatfield were seized from the students while they were reading the novels in class. Personal attacks on the teacher and demands for her dismissal have been so vehement that her job is now in jeopardy.
Solonor Says Ban It Because: We've met this author before (she's Jewish, ya know...not that there's anything wrong with that....) She's the one that did that "Summer of My German Soldier" thing (#89). This is all just an ACLU plot to make your kids gay.
Links:
What If Good Girls Do?



Sex Education

AUTHOR: Jenny Davis
ISBN: 053108356X
Plot Summary: David and Livvie are working on their term project together for their sex education class. Their project is to care for someone else for the semester. But when they choose a lonely, pregnant neighbor, they find that caring isn't as simple as it sounds.
Complaints: Sexual themes, offensive language
Solonor Says Ban It Because: I don't care if the title doesn't have much to do with the book. It's bad enough!
Links:
The Fileroom.org-Bismark, ND, school libraries



Running Loose

AUTHOR: Chris Crutcher
ISBN: 0440975700
Plot Summary: Louie, a high school senior in a small Idaho town, learns about sportsmanship, love, and death as he matures into manhood.
Complaints: Sexual themes, violence, offensive language
Solonor Says Ban It Because: I think we already talked about this guy once (see #64). His stuff is so open and honest, it makes me ill.
Links:
Teenreads.com-Running Loose by Chris Crutcher



Pillars of the Earth

AUTHOR: Ken Follett
ISBN: 0451166892
Plot Summary: The epic story of the building of a cathedral in 12th century England.
Word from the mouse: This book read rather like the fantasy I'm used to, minus any fancy creatures. There's adventure, revenge, religion, and a wide variety of protagonists. There's also rape and torture, love and hatred, joy and hope. There's also a lot of religion. Full Review
Complaints: Sexual themes, violence, religion
Moved to a new "reserve" section of the Chanute, Kans. school library (1994). The book came under fire because of some use of obscenity and graphic violence.
Solonor Says Ban It Because: For as long as it takes to read this thing, you could have built TWO cathedrals yourself. By hand. No kids need to be subjected to this.
Links:
Ken Follet Library-The Pillars of the Earth



Little Black Sambo

AUTHOR: Helen Bannerman
ISBN: 1557094144
Plot Summary: The classic tale of a young Indian boy who meets up with tigers and turns them into butter.
Complaints: Racism
Banned from Toronto public schools in 1956.
Solonor Says Ban It Because: Fair is fair. If you're gonna ban from the right, ya gotta ban from the left, too.
Links:
Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia