Summer Reading

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=banned+books&iid=3111873″ src=”b/4/1/1/Coo_c082.jpg?adImageId=12600765&imageId=3111873″ width=”234″ height=”161″ /]The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has just released it’s top 10 list of the most “challenged” books of 2009.

“Challenged” is the charming euphemism that the ALA uses for books that are basically censored from schools and libraries in the U.S.:

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. (source)

Since I usually find that challenged books are well-written, thought-provoking, relevant, and engaging, I like to read as many of them as possible as my own challenge to this form of censorship.

On this year’s list are some perennial favorites (Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, which everyone should read at least once; Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War, which is gritty, disturbing, and brilliant; Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, an important American classic; Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, still one of the great coming-of-age novels, if a little dated now) and some recent books I don’t know (“The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things,” by Carolyn Mackler has to be good with a title like that).

I’m all in favor of age-appropriate literature, but I dispute anyone’s right to tell me what is or is not age appropriate. And if you really can’t stand a book, for goodness’ sake, just put it down and let someone else try it! My two-year-old has already developed a great strategy for dealing with books that are too old for him: he stops paying attention.

Author: Nigel Caplan

Nigel Caplan, Ph.D., is an associate professor of ESL and materials developer in Delaware, in the United States.

2 thoughts on “Summer Reading”

  1. Thanks to your post I “goggled” some books and discovered the name of the bird that was intriguing me for the past month (ok, it was also annoying me when I was awake over night studying): Mockingbird!

    1. Fernanda — To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of the truly great American novels of the 20th century. There’s also a great movie version with Gregory Peck, but do read the book first!

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