Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books Week; a week in aid of highlighting the ubiquitous and ignorant censorship of books.

These are books that contain; sex, drugs, weaponry, homosexuality, genitalia Etc.- even in an educational context. But the banned list also includes; Sausages, sandwiches, hedgehogs, double-decker buses (American children won't know what they are, so better not include them rather than arouse curiosity) nipples (even on a gorilla- see Lynne Chapman's blog) and facial expressions (it's prefered a picture book gives out unrealistic or mixed-messages than shows anyone angry, sad or scared), anything occult (Bye, bye, Harry!) danger (pots on stoves, children anywhere near stoves... in fact, we know it's a kitchen and the book's about cooking, but perhaps we could leave the stove out altogether...?!)

Some of you may have read about this in UK press. Articles such as this BBC report are well-meaning but completely misinformed when they say 'There is a battle being fought in America over books.' I see you all reading that and looking slightly smug. If I didn't know better, I would be too.

Here, Anne Rooney's brilliant article highlights how this oversea's battle affects UK authors/illustrators and every single UK child. We may not think we're censoring our children's reading over here, but by Golly we are. And the decision to censor has been made long before teachers or parents have even caught a whiff of the books.

As well as slowly maiming our authors and illustrators imagination, I believe this level of taboo limits a child's opportunities to imagine and question. As Albert Einstein said,

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."

He also said,

"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."

So, take a look here for Banned Book event idea's. You'll never know all the ways that the picture books on UK shelves have been altered/neutered (!) in order to be released, but to show your solidarity, simply have a read of some of the banned fiction texts. You can find a few of them here. 'James and the Giant Peach,' anyone?


Thomas Taylor said...

That's a really great Einstein quotation, Cassia! Thanks for introducing me to it.

James and the Giant Peach!

cassia said...

No worries. Thanks for alerting me to the cause!

Lynne Chapman said...

Excellent post Cass.

Not only did I have trouble with gorilla nipples, I also had a topless mouse and a trouserless badger argument! Nuts.

cassia said...

Lynne. I find the whole thing so sad... although the words 'trouserless badger arguement' did make me smile.

Here's another ridiculous case, and a fantastic manifesto.


Sam McCullen said...

Great post!

I had trouble with (very discreet) boobs and a long scarf which apparently created a 'manly bulge' in the way it hung down...

(er, in case this is ever read out of context, I'm talking about a book illustration!)

cassia said...

I bet you did, you naughty boy! Can't wait to see you, M'lovely.