Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Banned Books

Via Kevin Drum, the ALA's list of 100 books most frequently challenged in 1990-2000. I've read 19, I think.* What's striking about the list is how, in general, the books are very high quality children's literature. You would be hard pressed to find a list of better kid's books. What makes them high quality is that they are willing to take on serious themes, or else are just sufficiently weird as to scare some people. Certainly they may disturb, but at least they take children's literature seriously as a literature.

Looking back on all the books I read as a youngster, I can't help but think how few (did any?) actually made an impression on me. I certainly loved turning the pages and seeing how the words were strung together, but the actual content? Hell, I still have trouble reading for content. Which is to say that expecting kids to be disturbed by themes in a book is, perhaps, expecting them to be much more sophisticated than many (some? a few?) of them are. And even if they prove far more intelligent than I often was and get the theme, it's unclear that it will prove particularly disturbing.

*Assuming that having read at least one member of a series counts as having read the series: this applies to Goosebumps and Harry Potter.


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