There’s nothing quite as exciting to a librarian as Banned Books Week. As sad as I am that books are still being challenged having a week dedicated to banned books allows us to have a dialogue. Most people don’t realize that last month someone tried to get The Handmaid’s Tale removed from schools, or that Eleanor and Park is being challenged in another school district right now.
These two cases show what’s so interesting about book banning. In most cases, books are banned for precisely what makes them relevant, interesting and important. Parents challenged The Handmaid’s Tale because of a specific scene where the main character is, essentially, raped. The scene is gruesome and terrible, but it has a purpose. The rape shows the brutality of the future in which the main character inhabits and makes the reader question how different that society is from our own.
In the same vein, Eleanor & Park is being challenged for its foul language. The kicker is that the foul language is used by characters at a school who bully the protagonists. Parents don’t want their children reading those words on the page but in all likelihood they’ve heard a bully use them in the hallway. The harsh words really show how desperate the bullying situation is in schools, perhaps allowing real life bullies to see the hurtfulness of their actions.
What other absurd challenges have you heard of lately?