Banned Books for Christmas
•••••••••• December 2022 ••••••••••
This year I decided to give my grandchildren Banned Books. Yup. Real banned books.
There is a certain amount of sweet satisfaction in giving books banned by the radical Christian Right as Xmas presents. There are lots of choices.
Do I want to give books that some think are too scary, or promote the occult, or contain objectionable language? How about books people want banned because they are too violent or include racial themes? Or, my goodness, books that recognize the LGBTQ+ community?
Freedom to Learn
What I really want to give my grandchildren is the idea of freedom of speech. That they have the right to read books that others may not like, and that age-appropriate history lessons about uncomfortable events are important. That they can learn about a diverse and complex world through books.
Banning children’s books from schools and libraries is a threat not only to freedom of speech but also to our commitment to teach our children well. Children need to learn about other cultures. They need to learn history, uncensored.”
Many popular books are banned
In looking over my shopping list of banned books, I discovered that I had read many of the banned books to my children when they were young.
- “Where the Wild Things Are”. Be warned. It promotes witchcraft and supernatural events. Charlotte’s Web: Talking animals? Really?
- Harry Potter? The Wizard of Oz? Dr. Seuss? Where’s Waldo? Where the Sidewalk Ends? The Diary of Anne Frank? You’ve got to be kidding.
My grandchildren already know what their presents will be. We sat down together and went over a banned books list and made selections.
What did they pick?
The seven-year-old went for The Call of the Wild, banned in some countries as being too radical. He loves graphic novels so The Witches, the Graphic Novel is on his list. Why banned? Some say it is satanic and conflicts with religious and moral beliefs.
Rounding out his selections is The Refugee about a Jewish boy fleeing Nazi Germany, a Cuban girl seeking safety from political unrest, and a Syrian boy fleeing violence. It’s been banned because of its “mature theme.”
The thirteen-year-old picked To Kill a Mockingbird about racial injustice in America. The Glory Field also is on the list, banned for racial themes. It is about the history of an African American family.
Growing list of banned books
Banning children’s books from schools and libraries is a threat not only to freedom of speech but also to our commitment to teach our children well. Children need to learn about other cultures. They need to learn history, uncensored.
A 2022 report by Pen America documents an increase in both the number of books banned and the intense focus on books that relate to communities of color and LGBTQ+ subjects.
Shopping list: Add banned books
This holiday season is your chance to speak out against censorship and to support the free expression of ideas.
Whatever you celebrate, there is a banned book that can help children learn compassion, value diversity, and think critically.
The New York Public Library has a list of age-appropriate banned books.
Let the shopping begin:
Carol Kocivar is a children’s advocate and lives in the Westside. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org