Wednesday, June 14, 2006

From the Filthy Mind of Judy Blume

Yesterday while checking stuff out on wikipedia I was looking up famous books to see what interesting facts I could learn about them and I noticed that a lot of them were on this list.

Wow, People have way too much time on their hands. A few posts back I commented on Chris' post about the FCC's purposed new decency fines. I said something along the lines that if you don't want to see something on TV then don't watch it. Now I realize that it is not always that easy with TV, it is pumped into your home for free and you or your kids can accidentally stumble across something that you find objectionable pretty easily. But with books YOU HAVE TO READ A BOOK. Trust me I know that this is no small feat. The argument that if you don't like you don't have to look at it applies way more in the world of literature than in TV. The accidentially stumbled on something horrible counter argument all but disappears.

I do realize that most of these books are for high schoolers and younger, so a lot of the controversy is probably that they are assigned reading and that maybe they don't have as much of a choice as it seems (although, as someone who wrote six papers about the "book" Jurrassic park I also know that "assigned reading" is a very subjective term (the main difference is that there are terydactyls in the book, mention that and you are golden (look three parentheticals in one))). Come on though, the kids books on this list either deal with wizards and magic or real life stuff that kids and teens will face. If your kid doesn't know that Harry Potter is not real and not evil he might be a little too sheltered, and as far as the real life issues (puberty, teasing, mischeif,etc.) they are going to see it anyway, so they might as well learn about it and have a chance to talk about it with their parents who have the responsibility of teaching them that stuff anyway. This poost is getting kind of long so maybe I will save my other thoughts for the comment board. Meet you there.

9 Comments:

At 6/14/2006 09:57:00 AM,

Along these lines, I heard on NPR this morning that at the Southern Baptist convention this week, they are debating whether to call for a mass exodus from public schools for their members.

I know there's a line to be drawn (though exactly where I can't tell) between understanding certain realities of human existence (i.e. sex, violence, and teasing(??)) and keeping yourself and your family away from potentially detrimental things. I do know that compete abstinence from knowlege about "the real world" will probably to a lot of confusion and/or disappointment down the road in life.

 
At 6/14/2006 11:08:00 AM,

I don't have much to say other than I have read many of the books on that list and some of them are favorites of mine.

 
At 6/14/2006 11:12:00 AM,

Too bad Fahrenheit 451 isn't on the list. That would be too ironic.

Anyway, since I am feeling like Umberto Eco's agent these days, I have to (again) recommend THE NAME OF THE ROSE for an interestnig perspective on books, and the censorship of...

 
At 6/14/2006 12:02:00 PM,

My friend Julia and I were talking about this recently. Her mom is a high school English teacher in Louisiana and recently learned that she cannot use Huck Finn in her class. It's pretty sad that we're preventing people from studying one of the great American novels just because it doesn't paint a rosy, 'all is well' picture of the American experience.

 
At 6/14/2006 12:11:00 PM,

One of my most vivid childhood memories is associated with censorship. An elementary school teacher started reading Lois Lowry's NUMBER THE STARS. The book barely mentions the holocaust, as a background event, and that was enough to send some parents complaining. One day, our teacher said, "class, I am no longer allowed to read you this book. go find it at your library and finish it". I later found out that some parents claimed that the holocaust wasnt real, and schools shouldnt be talking about it. How scary is THAT???

So I did. I must have been in 3rd grade at the time, maybe 4th at best. I remember how sneaky I felt finishing the book, and what a good book it was. That was when the library became the COOLEST PLACE IN THE WORLD to me. From that moment, until I was in maybe 8th grade, I had this fantasy that when I grew up, I would buy a library already full of books, install a fridge and microwave, and live out my days reading EVERYTHING.

 
At 6/15/2006 10:30:00 AM,

Isn't it funny how in high school people are trying to limit your reading choices, how censor-happy parents are trying to shield innocent minds from the evils of the world like books such as Huck Finn, and when you go to college sometimes LESS THAN THREE MONTHS LATER everything has changed. The read-whatever-you-want-and-the-dirtier-the-better fairy taps you on the head with her magic wand and in a cloud of smoke your wisked off to your first college English class where they not only decline to ask parents whether their choice of reading material is okay for such fragil overprotected minds, but they go out of their way to choose a book that would send those book banning authority figures into fits of outrage and disgust, like On The Road (which is not really a bad book but with sex and excessive drug use, it is a book that will never see the light of day in a high school). The thought of someone whose mind is so protected that they cannot handle a book like Huck Finn going to college gives me the shivers.

 
At 6/15/2006 10:52:00 AM,

Jaime,
Your observation was totally hilarious and TOTALLY TRUE!!

 
At 6/15/2006 11:09:00 AM,

I think Jaime is so right. College would definitely be a wake up call. I'm sure some people may disagree with me here, but in a lot of ways I think reading those books are a great way to learn. There is definitely an element of age appropriateness which I fully agree with, but in a lot of cases, these books have people making mistakes, or "not living the Amreican experience" or whatever. But maybe that's what we should learn from. I would much rather have people read books and see the consequences of bad behavior than to actually live it and find out.

 
At 6/15/2006 11:10:00 AM,

"The read-whatever-you-want-and-the-dirtier-the-better fairy"


CLASSIC!!!!

 

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