Banned Books Week: The Fault in Our Stars Gets Pulled From Shelves!

Its still Banned Books Week.

And with banned books week comes an influx of people that are still trying to ban books.

I take this week to recognize that there are books out there that push the buttons for others. I take it to recognize that some authors work their asses off just to be pushed down again. And that sucks. I like to kind of take this week to take those books that are so frequently challenged and shove it down the throats of those who don’t want to read it.

Sort of. I’m not THAT mean.

But anyway, story the stories that have been hitting the airwaves this week have included lists of frequently challenged books you should be reading, quizzes on how many you’ve actually read and even a woman who is rewriting the Harry Potter series to make it appropriate for her very Christian family (its up in the air whether this is for real or an elaborate satirical hoax…)

But I just found out recently that the Riverside Unified School District in California has recently banned The Fault in Our Stars from their libraries and have pulled them from the shelves. Apparently, the sexual content is too inappropriate and its also too much for teenagers to read about teenagers discussing death and morality. It would be too difficult for them. Apparently.

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Now, look, I’ve made this clear. I think its up to each individual parent to decide with each of their children what they feel is appropriate for them to read. Personally, I think you should give children more credit and that they’ll be able to handle it. I also think if you, I don’t know, crazy concept, TALK to your children about the content you’re worried about in the book, and open yourself up to them for questions if they have them, then there should be no problem with them reading that book. But again, its your decision to keep that from your kids, if you want. I’m not a parent and I’m certainly not the parent of your child.

But here’s the thing: WHY WHY WHY WHY. Why do you think shielding your child from the realities of the world is a good thing? Why? I don’t understand that. Yes, this book has sex in it. The teenagers have sex. Insert eye roll here. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably repeat myself a million times more…teenagers have sex. Jeez. At least John Green did it in such a beautiful and tasteful way, with them being in love, with them making the choice responsibly and for them using protection, and all of that.

But I think the part that really got to me about this (besides the fact that Riverside is literally down the freeway from me, and I’m so massively disappointed in them), is that they were so highly concerned with the approach of death and mortality in the book. It would be too much for the young readers to handle.

Look, we die. And while the thought of it is literally one of the scariest things in the entire world to me, literally, it was one of my biggest fears ever…reading about it helps me actually. Its helpful to me to read about this, when other people talk about it (in books) and I get to listen. Because its a reality and reading that sort of thing makes me feel comforted. Its one of my favorite parts of the Harry Potter series. I like being able to deal with the things that scare me through books, through a second hand experience.

So why are we hiding this from our children? Why do you think keeping this book, especially a book that is so insanely popular and loved by so many teens, is going to shield them from this reality? Sure, I would give this to a younger child, maybe, but a preteen/teenager, sure. I was reading adult mystery novels, with blood and violence and and murder when I was like ten years old. TFiOS is nothing compared to that. I may think its a little overrated based on the insane popularity it is but its a great book and a lot of teenagers love it and find a connection with it. So why keep it from them?

Also, your kid is reading! That’s fantastic. Do you know how many kids are NOT reading? If your kid wants to read a book, let me them! Again, talk to them about the things that you might be concerned with and always, always, always be there to talk to your kids openly about the things they have questions with. I swear, your life will be SO much easier that way instead of just pulling the books off the shelves.

But again, this is just the opinion of a blogger, who, yeah, isn’t a parent, but its what I think, and I just don’t believe in ever censoring a person from reading something they want to read. Ever. Besides, I think John Green’s reaction to this banning in the Riverside school district sums it up just perfectly:

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Happy Reading everyone :)

Its Banned Books Week!

Guys, more about its Banned Books Week!

Its like…Halloween and Thanksgiving (oh, viagra buy mashed potatoes) and Christmas and my birthday all got together and thought, visit meh, we’re nothing compared to Banned Books Week!

I am trying to picture your reaction to the sentence I just wrote above and I’ve come to the conclusion that you either think I’m a crazy person, that I’m silly (I kind of like that one), or you just totally understand.

See, here’s the thing. I love books. I absolutely completely love books. I love books with a passion. I mean, you should see how crazy I get about books. Wait, you guys kind of do…

Anyway, its incredibly baffling to me that someone would want to actually ban books. Look, I understand that there are books you don’t like. Or that have content that you don’t agree with, but I believe that censorship in writing is just wrong. Its just wrong. I mean, sure, I don’t want someone to write a book that teaches me how to kill a child or whatever, but I’m pretty sure someone would never actually publish that because ohmygod what is wrong with you?

BUT. Censorship. Its wrong. Its just wrong. Just because you don’t agree with something (and there are things I absolutely positively do NOT agree with in books) doesn’t mean you should censor it.

I also think that a lot of censorship in books comes from, well, the inability to look past your biases and see the real story. Often times, a book is challenged, honestly, for the most ridiculous reasons. Animals talking because its too fantastical and against nature.  A blow job because its inappropriate for teenager readers. (Really? Really? Do you really think teenagers aren’t sexually active? REALLY?). Things like that.

I was doing some research while writing this post and I came across this quote from a August 15th article on Christianity Today, that actually pleasantly surprised me and I thought I would share it:

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Now there are hundreds of books that have been challenged, adult books and young adult books, nonfiction books (SERIOUSLY? FACTUAL BOOKS ARE CHALLENGED!), children’s books…so many books. But of course, because this is my blog and I’m the all powerful master of everything that happens on this blog, I am going to talk about some YA books I love that have been challenged. 

Because you know what? I want to shout out to these awesome books. Keep your head up authors, if someone hates your book so much to try and get it banned completely…that’s pretty awesome.

Moving on…

Harry Potter Series 

Of course. It promotes Wiccan practices (which, I mean, is centered around nature so what’s so bad about that?) and Satanism (to each their own) and witchcraft to children. People have complained that the books avoid the discussion of religion period, and there was even an uproar when JK Rowling revealed that she had always thought of Dumbledore as gay. Harry Potter is about so much more than shoving witchcraft down your throat and everyone needs to hush, Dumbledore is fabulous.

The Giver 

The Giver has been challenged many times. In fact, its one of the most challenged books and it ends up on the top lists quite often. Its cited simply for “violence” and “not suited for the age group”. Apparently the book is too dark for children to read. Its also been pointed out that there is drug use, and brainwashing and things like that. Did no one else get that the whole drug use, brainwashing and that sort of thing was a BAD thing in the book? Or was that just me?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Challenged by parents in different school districts because of sexually explicit content and foul language. (Have they literally never met a teenager before?) Oh yes and it deals with homosexuality and abuse. Because why on earth would we want a book that deals with realistic issues that teenagers every day are dealing with? And why on earth would we want characters with different sexual preferences? Realism is so overrated anyway…

Looking for Alaska

Again with the sex. A bunch of teenagers are living in dorms at a boarding school and we really don’t expect sex to happen? Really? I’m blown away by this. There is a scene in this novel (sorry guys if you haven’t read it) that is a blow job. A really bad blow job. Like, there is an attempt at a blow job and its kind of funny. Eventually things get squared away a little and the BJ goes a little bit better, but apparently its the worst scene to ever exist in the history of YA literature. Looking for Alaska has topped the challenged book lists in the past couple years and I just want to roll my eyes. Must we go through this again? Teens have sex.

The Hunger Games 

There is SO much wrong with this book according to those who want to ban it that I kind of don’t know where to start. Its anti-ethnic, anti-family, violent, has themes of occult and satanic nature, its insensitive and has foul language. Now, I can understand not wanting your child to read this book. It is pretty violent. I don’t agree with some of the other stuff, but I can still see why someone wouldn’t want their child to read that. But that’s a whole ‘nother story at the end of this post.

Twilight

Hell yes I went there. Putting aside the fact that is NOT a well written book and the story is so incredibly lacking in plot structure, character development and that sort of thing, I do like it. Sometimes you just need a cheesy romance that its an incredibly easy read. You just do. Its mostly been banned because of sexual content but also some schools have pulled it off shelves because Bella was a bad influence for girls. Now, while I totally don’t disagree with that, I don’t think that this is enough reason to completely pull this book off shelves. But more on that later…

Eleanor and Park 

I read an article with immense distaste (god, I can’t handle it) that Eleanor and Park was such a disgrace as a book because of the foul language and the age inappropriate content. Its also apparently “sexually charged”. I’m getting the disgusted shivers just thinking about it. Blergh. This leads me almost perfectly into what I want to end this post with…

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Basically, the issue that comes with a lot of YA books is this: inappropriate material. Drug use, abuse, sexuality, sex period, all kinds of stuff. But there’s the thing, you may not LIKE this subject matter but banning books doesn’t get rid of this completely. You can’t deny that there are people using drugs and drinking alcohol, yes as teenagers. And yes, teenagers are having sex. Lots of it. And okay, not all teenagers, but its happening and yes its more than just your traditional sex, they’re having oral sex too! Surprise, surprise. And violence and foul language, all of these things exist and keeping books away from your kids isn’t going to keep them from being a reality. Even the sort of things that appear in a fantasy book or dystopian or science fiction still has some basis in reality.

So here’s my thing: banning books, pulling them from shelves, forbidding your kids from reading them? Doesn’t make any sense and honestly is pretty pointless. But talking to your children and being open and honest with them about the material in the books, and deciding when they are mature enough to read books with that material….that makes a lot more sense to me. If you don’t want your kid to read The Hunger Games, sure, that’s fine. Don’t ban the book! Talk to them about the issues you have with the blog, discuss it and then decide when they’re old enough to read it.

Plus, I’m just saying, when I was younger, if my parents told me not to do something, forbade it, made sure that I totally and completely did not do it, I would probably make sure somehow that I did it. Luckily, I have parents that have always been awesome and open with me about all sorts of things. I’ve never felt like I read about books with material too mature for me, and if I ever did, I felt confident that I could approach my parents and talk it out.

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Basically, I love banned books week. I love talking about books and book controversies and looking up articles from all the book banning people and laughing a little at the overdramatic arguments they make against books. I love this week and I hope you can join me in celebrating the love of literature and the ability that authors have to write something new and awesome and controversial enough (apparently) to anger some people. Because you know what, I want people to hate my book as much as people love it because hate is a strong reaction and that’s still pretty badass.

Thanks, as always, for listening to me ramble :)

And don’t forget to share your own favorite banned books in the comments!