Banned Books


I just wanted to say that I am a huge fan of the Alice books.  I am 25 and I
wish I could say I grew up reading the series, but unfortunately I wasn’t
exposed to them until a few years ago.  I began reading them after a colleague
complained about them being available in the media center (middle school) in
which I worked.  I wanted to check them out for myself and didn’t have the same
reaction as she did.  I was hooked.  I have since read them all and look forward
to each new book. 

I am wondering what you think about your almost regular appearance on ALA’s
banned books lists.  I think it is very sad that some people try to limit what
children are exposed to as a means of “protecting” them.  I see your books as a
tool for helping young readers, both on their own or as a source of advice on
who they can go to for help/guidance.

I would really appreciate your thoughts on this.

Phyllis replied:

I know that our readers very much appreciate your thoughts about some libraries banning the Alice books.  Here’s the deal: since Alice gets older in every book, obviously some of the books are meant for an older audience.  I wouldn’t recommend “Intensely Alice,” for example, in an elementary school library.  So “book selection” isn’t always the same as “banning” a book, though I can imagine that some librarys call it that.  Actually, librarians are some of the most loyal supporters of the Alice books, and defend them if someone wants them banned.  It’s usually parents who want their children kept “pure,” as many parents tell me, “from harmful influences.”  The mother of a ten year old girl was very angry with me for talking about how babies are conceived in Lovingly Alice.  She wrote that since her daughter read that book, “the words penis and vagina will be forever ingrained on her mind.”  Another mother tearfully accosted me because she found the word “condoms” in a novel for teenagers, and said, “My eighth grade son doesn’t know what condoms are and I don’t want him to know.”   Whenever I hear comments like these, my heart really goes out to their children.  Often, when word gets out that a book has been banned from a library, it merely increases sales; people rush out to buy it and see what was so offensive.  But more often than not, librarians successfully keep the books they and readers love on the shelves.  The American Library Association’s list of banned books is only a count of how many times a book has been challenged; it’s not really the actually number of times it’s been removed from the shelves.  Good libraries have a system in place where the protesting adult must read the book he wants banned, write up a report of why, suggest an alternate book, and then his report, plus the library’s defense of the book, go before a committee, and the committee decides whether or not to keep it.  I think it would be a good idea if students were told when a request comes in to ban a book, so that the readers themselves can have a say in it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fan Mail

Comments are closed.