Do you read banned books?

One of the most banned booksThis week is Banned Books Week in America, but we thought we would celebrate too.  Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read whatever, whenever and wherever we choose, and draws attention to the harms of censorship.  The reasons for censorship are many and varied, and when you look at some of the reasons why books have been banned (particularly in America), it seems ridiculous. 


 Here are just some of the fantastic children’s books that have been banned or challenged for ridiculous reasons:

1. Witches by Roald Dahl – gives children a false idea about how the world works and it has a negative portrayal of women.

2. The Captain Underpants series by Dave Pilkey – encourages children to disobey authority.

3. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak – objections to nudity (some librarians have even drawn pants on Mickey).

4. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson – gives negative views of life and promotes witchcraft.

5. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein – includes poems about disobeying children, dying children and there is a presence of supernatural forces in the poetry.

We have a display in the Centre for the Child in Central Library of some books that have been banned or challenged so come in and take one home.  You can also have a look at the list of the top 100 banned or challenged books between 1990 and 2000.  Be warned though – these books could be bad for your health so read them at your own risk!

Blockbuster read

I immersed myself in Dan Brown’s latest doorstopper The Lost Symbol over the weekend. It was perfect weather on Sunday to hunker down and read, read, read.

The Lost Symbol has all the hallmarks of a classic Dan Brown blockbuster – murder, family secrets, conspiracy theories, religous theories, scientific explanations for the unknown, maps, ciphers. You name it, it’s in there.

Robert Langdon reprises the role of Harvard scholar from Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, and in The Lost Symbol, it’s a 12 hour countdown to figure out the answers to the myriad of puzzles and stop the almighty calamity from happening. The tension builds, the minutes tick away, the plot twists and turns, and you do get to a point where you just can’t put it down because you’ve got to get to the end. For me, it was the events of Chapter 104 that made me not put it down until I had finished it.

Having finished it, I will admit that I love this kind of blockbuster fiction. It’s true, it isn’t rocket science and it certainly isn’t highbrow literature, but it’s a damn good rollicking read, it grips you, it surprises you, it intrigues you. It has all the classic features of a blockbuster movie – and yes, I think it will be a great movie, parts of the book will be fantastic when realised on the big screen, especially the baddie!

So put aside your prejudices of formulaic fiction and delve into the world of Washington D.C., the Freemasons, Noetics, the Smithsonian Museum, alchemy, magic squares and the importance of numbers.