Robert's personal anecdote opens a door. I want to open it farther. This is a multifaceted set of issues to which I'm committed in Ohio, nationally, and internationally. Check your state: I work directly with Honesty in Ohio Education (a coalition of dozens of orgs), RedWine.Blue (educating suburban mothers), BannedBooksBox.com (a subscription service run by a Cleveland-area librarian that sends subscribers two banned books each month!), Public Education Partners, Save Ohio Higher Education, AAUP, PEN, American Library Assn., teachers and student groups
I call on all of you to take action inc. local school boards and state reps.
As a historian of literacy and of children, I published among other items about the history of book banning and what I have named "the new illiteracy"--banning without reading, unlike earlier campaigns--in Publishers Weekly reaching a nonacademic audience: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/columns-and-blogs/soapbox/article/88195-harvey-j-graff-examines-the-history-of-book-banning.html
With my close friend and younger colleague, Ashley Perez whose excellent, prize-winning YA novel Out of Darkness is banned across TX and in one county in UT,and threatened elsewhere, published
I speak on NPR about these issues
While Robert's personal story is important, it is not unusual. It can be told more widely (no Robert, I don't think you actually reach 6.5 people :) ) Everyone should read and share the powerful NYT OpEd "My young mind was disturbed by a book. It changed my life"
From basic civil rights to the rights of children (for which we fought for more than 100 years--and now trampled by fake "parents' rights) to our very future: get active!
This idea could get some adults to do some reading too. Just ban the books and people get curious. Most want to see what the big deal is.
In a similar vein, in freshman English, we read some of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and the prof pointedly warned us not to read any of them that were unsuitable for polite young ladies and gentlemen. He particularly cautioned against “The Miller’s Tale.” When class ended, I practically jogged over to the library to check out an unabridged edition. I read the Miller’s Tale on the spot, and laughed so hard that I feared I would be thrown out of the library. I remember more about that story than anything else we covered that semester. Brilliant teacher.
It is sad that the very same people who disparage "the woke left" as snowflakes want to erase ideas, and reality, that might cause them to feel uncomfortable.
Not just teenagers! I never read Maus, but I just put it on hold at my local library. I am infuriated by the far-right attempts to limit the books that are deemed “appropriate “. The decision to read anything should be an individual choice.
Banning books widens the divide between red and blue. Though some kids may seek out banned books, others won't have a chance to read them with the guidance of a teacher. This lack of a common understanding and culture widens the divide. I suspect Republicans are doing everything possible to make it happen because they need constituents who are uneducated and hostile to culture.
I love the drastic backfire! A bookstore, I think it’s BN but not positive, set up a sale table with a sign that says Books banned in 2021! It’s working well. This is actually very inspiring. We will cause backfires every inch of the way and show them that we will flex our power in numbers. Time fir us all to pushback everywhere.
Truly great news! Thank you.
I'm pretty sure most of those who want to ban these books have never read them
Occasional mentions of sex in books just doesn't have the appeal it used to have for sex-starved teenagers in the 50's and 60's, now that they can see anything they want to for free on the internet. Sorry Lady Chatterley, your time is past. And the depiction of a naked mouse (the Jews were mice in Maus, hence the title, while the cats were the Nazis) in Maus isn't as titilating as it might have been half a century ago.
But why would anyone ban Catch-22 or Gatsby? Two of the great books of the century. It makes no sense at all.
I ran into the same problem back in the 70's when educational book publishers tested their books in Texas, which as a large market for textbooks had an inordinate sway over the content of textbooks nationwide. Mercifully the Texas no-nothings don't have the power they once had but I'm sure they still won't purchase textbooks for biology with graphic drawings of genitalia, or history texts with the "far-left commie" view that the Civil War was fought because rich people wanted to keep slaves, when they purport to know it was all about constitutional differences.
Simply put, you can't fix stupid.
As a 20-something I read Rushdie's "Satanic Verses" after the Ayatollah Khomeini sentence the author to death for writing it. The bookstore wasn't even carrying copies of it out of fear of something bad happening in their stores. They did have coupons you could use to order one (it was in the BI era---before Internet). I ordered it and read it. It turned out to be one more thing to hold against Khomeini! I thought it was terrible though not quite worthy of capital punishment. Probably the book would have died in posterity except for the ayatollah's wildly exaggerated sense of outrage.
As some have said about Maus, Caged Bird & Invisible Man were major influences and touchstones with authors that made sense to me in my early life. Catch 22 & Gatsby were powerful and important to me in my teens. The fight to ban Henry Miller's work certainly had me as a late budding adult wanting to know what the fuss was about and trying to surreptitiously read copies of the Tropics from my parents' book collection in the early mornings before they woke . . . just as the current "puritan" and idiotic attempt to control public thinking will have me tracking down a copies of both Out of Darkness & Maus to add to my bookshelves. Please say "no" to anyone between the ages of thirteen & twenty-six, it works wonders in reinforcing the very behavior you expect to halt!
I had several books banned by the school board when I was attempting to be a teacher. That never worked out for me, but I did have a method of making sure the books would be read. I'd stack the offending copies on my desk. These included 1984, Brave New World, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Grapes of Wrath or whatever the board had thought too indecent for their little high-school kids to bear. Then I would take a 20-minute coffee break in the teacher's lounge.
A comic book store owner has offered to give away 100 copies of "Maus" to families affected by the ban in McMinn County, TN.
When I was in high school—long ago and far away—one of the board members tried to remove "The Diary of Anne Frank" from the school library, claiming incorrectly that it contained references to masturbation. I'd already read the book in fourth grade or so, but I re-read it to make sure I hadn't missed anything.
We had to read "The Great Gatsby" in school. If you've escaped having to read it so far, you're lucky. It is, IMHO, dreadful.
Thank you for this take on book banning. I have been upset by the knowledge that Maus was banned, even though I had never heard of it before it’s banning. I’m still not going to thank the little minded people responsible for banning great literature because as Gov. Desantis would say it makes his constituents uncomfortable.
I’ve read many of these banned books to see what all the brouhaha is about. The latest is “Gender Queer: a Memoir”, a graphic novel, by Maia Kobabe. They (preferred pronoun) struggled for years with their sexual identity. This would be a perfect book for young people who are similarly confused about who they are sexually… and for others who are curious about gender identity. By the way, I’m 76 years old, not a teenager by a long shot.