In 2003, a superintendent banned the book The Handmaid’s Tale from his high school. In 2017, the screen version of that same book won numerous awards. Hundreds of books have been banned for all kinds of reasons, and most of them climb out of the trash bin sooner or later, and that scenario bothers me. Frankly, I am afraid of a society that bans books, PERIOD!!! But I am even more suspicious knowing that our basic, constitutional freedoms can be removed by the sweep of one person’s or one committee’s hand and then restored willy-nilly. I am concerned that the average citizen’s freedoms are volleyed back and forth, and I am leery of living in a nation that considers its laws to be tentative and subject to change, like a school girl’s fashions. Today, I want to tell you about some children’s books that were banned for ridiculous reasons.

Honestly, I can understand that The Handmaid’s Tale might not appeal to the general public. Some people might be outright frightened of The Handmaid’s Tale, but I believe that people who do not want to read or watch The Handmaid’s Tale should simply avoid it. But how about Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein? Is anyone actually afraid of that book? My all-time-very-favorite poem is from Where the Sidewalk Ends.

Image result for shel silverstein invitation jacki kellum

I work part-time as my library’s children’s librarian, and my very favorite book and song program is from Bill Martin’s book Brown Bear, Brown Bear.

Believe it or not, Brown Bear was banned at one time, and the reason reinforces what is at the root of my fear of banning books. Brown Bear was banned because whoever waved the wand and cursed that one made a mistake. They thought that a Marxist by the same name had written Brown Bear, too–OH MY! And they simply tossed the book out. And here’s the MOST frightening part–everyone else allowed them to do it.

Is Brown Bear a great book for children or is it something to be feared and damned? And more importantly, who are the THEY that get to decide what is acceptable and what is not for everyone else? I believe that people have enough sense to judge book content for themselves and to read accordingly.

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The Rabbit’s Wedding by Garth Williams

Garth Williams is the man who is revered for his illustrations for Charlotte’s Web and for the more recent Little House on the Prairie books. He wrote and illustrated The Rabbit’s Wedding, too, but it was banned because some believed that it was promoting interracial marriage. Oh, PLEASE!

The list goes on and on. Books are banned and they are unbanned, and the whole thing irks me. Banned Books week begins the last full week of September, and I’ll be writing a great deal about banned books during the coming week. In the meantime, I want to encourage everyone to seriously consider whether or not they want to live in a country that burns books. Banning books is a mere sneeze away from burning books. Beware.

©Jacki Kellum September 19, 2017

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