Banned Books Lists

Question:

I was very shocked to find the Alice series on a banned books list. I was an avid Alice reader for several years in my pre-teens and early teens and I accredit her and you, obviously, for fostering my love of reading, which helped make my decision to pursue an English major. Also, I attended a very small rural school and didn’t find anyone like me until college, so Alice was my good friend during my formative years and many of her fears and concerns mirrored my own. I know you hear this very often. But really, I was shocked that anyone ever was able to point to one of the Alice books and identify something they didn’t like. Am I naive about the human capacity to misunderstand and be over-protective? I remember Alice as completely wholesome, but perhaps I might be surprised if I went back to reread them?

Phyllis replied:

I think that some people feel that a book is offensive if, writing about questionable conduct, the author doesn’t make clear that she disapproves of it, rather than letting the characters wrestle with the actions themselves and weigh and pros and cons.  Many feel that literature for young people must be of the inspirational nature, emphasizing only what they consider to be the right conduct.  My view is different, in that I see fiction plots as journeys in which the main character is experiencing life and dealing with it, sometimes making mistakes, sometimes being noble.   The fact that Alice and her friends think about sex sometimes and talk about it, and that they use expressions such as “Oh my God!” seem very offensive to some people, and nevermind what people do in real life.  I’m happy to know that reading the Alice books was a positive experience for you.  Thanks so much for writing.

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