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Thursday, October 1, 2015

We're Reading Banned Books - Results!

Posted by Staff

About a month ago, we decided to each pick a book that has been challenged or banned to read for Banned Books Week ( Here are the books we read, or attempted to read, and what we thought of them!

Joyce D. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
This 1977 Newberry Award winner is a stark look at the life of a 10 year old boy and the new classmate he befriends. I would recommend it with caution because of the the death of the young classmate as she tries to reach their private world of "Terabithia". I think one of the reasons it has been challenged is its unflinching look at the child's death and how the children handle it.

Katherine R. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
I did finish this book, but it wasn't an easy book for me to read. I wasn't very interested in the characters because they seemed flat and I didn't like them. Given that this is a frequently challenged classic, I thought there would be more to it, but everything is very subtle, even the infidelity.

Zach H. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
I can't remember the last time that I trudged through a 200 page book. I was glad when I finally finished the book. I'm not sure if this would have been better to read as a child, but as an adult it was horrendous. The only positive about it to me was that Meg, the main character, was a decent role model for girls in the time when women were still breaking out of the "uneducated housewife" mold of the early 20th century. I wouldn't say I'm glad I read it, and I'll definitely never recommend it to anyone. It's hard to say why it was banned - I felt it was so heavy-handed with Christian symbolism that it's hard to believe anyone religious would have an issue. Then again, maybe it was because there are aliens in it...

Kelsey H. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
I think this series has been banned because it promotes witchcraft and disobedience. Harry and his friends are constantly going against the professors instructions, sneaking around and getting themselves into trouble. Right off the bat in the first book we find out Harry is an orphan because his parents were killed by the darklord. The series does have several “dark” themes and progresses as the series goes on but it isn’t terrible.  I feel like if this series was written for older teens or adults it would not have been challenged but since it is for elementary kids people feel like it is teaching them it is okay to rebel.
I listened to this book on audio CD and really enjoyed it; I’d say it’s the best audio book I’ve ever listened to. The narrator, Jim Dale, was fantastic and got all the voices spot on. I highly recommend this series on audio book to people of all ages!

Melissa P. Sophie's Choice by William Styron
I was so excited to read this book...then I started reading it. I supposed I'm too used to books starting off with a bang in the middle of a scene. This did not. After pages of dull character back tracking, I gave up. I know this book is popular, but I just couldn't make myself plod on. Why was this banned? I don't know, unless it's because no one should have to work so long and tirelessly to get to an interesting passage. 

David R. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
While I did not get to finish the book entirely, I believe that the book was banned due to its notions of secrecy in a Catholic boys school (probably infuriating authorities at the time of the book's publication). A conservative in private but a liberal-minded purveyor in public, I had no problem with the book's content, and found the plot to be very engrossing. I think that the language in the book is accessible to everyone so Cormier is neither speaking up nor down to his audience. The book is an intense narrative, featuring accurate descriptions of angst.

Kristen R. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
This book was an intriguing read. I'm a Vonnegut fan, and Cat's Cradle has been on my to-read list for too long. It takes a satirical look on science and technology, specifically the atomic bomb, and delves into a farce religion called Bokononism. These elements are likely reasons that the book was banned in the '70s. The writing style is conversational, which drew me close to the characters and made a great pace for the story. It was humorous, endearing, and in many ways insightful. Definitely loved, and definitely recommended!

Although I haven’t quite finished the book yet, I know now why this book is so revered. Her stories of childhood and growing up are told in such a way that you feel like you are there with her. She is a true storyteller. I’m so glad to finally be reading it and I would definitely recommend it to others. I know why the book has been banned or challenged and it truly is hard to read certain parts of the book, but these are things that really happened to someone and it’s important for people to tell their stories. It’s not just for the storytellers but also the readers. Telling her story helps people who have gone through similar circumstances and in turn helps them to tell their stories as well. There are many different ways this book could affect the person reading it and that’s what makes it important and an example of great literature.

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