Monday, September 28, 2009

Banned Books Week


We all know about the battle against censorship. We all know the importance of free speech. My publisher supports this battle all year long, but this is a special week in which to shout from the rooftops and draw lines in the sand.

Imagine if the censors had their way throughout the years. There'd be no ARE YOU THERE GOD, IT'S ME MARGARET by Judy Blume, or THE GIVER, by Lois Lowry, or THE CHOCOLATE WAR by Robert Cormier or A DAY NO PIGS WOULD DIE by Robert Peck. Countless others. Some people even wanted to ban HARRY POTTER, which is the silliest silliness in the history of silly silliness.

Please spread the word that we can never let ourselves take the first step on that treacherous slippery slope. Check out this website by the Random House First Amendment Committee: CLICK HERE. I love the part where you can read quotes from authors like Judy Blume and Lois Lowry about censorship.

Have a great day. I'll return to my normal giddy ranting about how close we are to my release day soon.

58 comments:

Deborah said...

Some day we might see Fahrenheit 451 in reality. Then no books.

Mary said...

Hi James,
Just wanted to let your fans know I'm giving away an ARC of The Maze Runner on my blog - Literarygirls.blogspot.com

Wil S. said...

Deborah- good point about Fahrenheit 451, the very same thing was crossing my mind... They really should have a remake of that movie, the Mechanical Hound wasn't in the first one.

And, banning Harry Potter? ppphhhhbbtttt... it'd never work in a million years, people would be hiding copies in the air ducts.

"The Giver", are you serious? Why ban that? Unless the government actually wants to make a future like that... bust out your foil hats, everyone!

-Wil

L.T. Elliot said...

Deborah's comment is terrifying to me. (Although I love Bradbury.)

Thanks for bringing this more fully to our attention, James.

7 days!

Graham Chops said...

I'm with Wil---I can't see why The Giver is on the gov't hitlist. Might as well include 1984 and...well holy cow, I mean the list is just super long.

Kenny said...

Wil--the argument to ban "The Giver" was mostly due to its discussion of infanticide and 12-year-old Jonas' emergent sexuality. But the argument to ban "Harry Potter" was all about witchcraft. And the argument to ban "Huckleberry Finn" was about racism. Today it's swearing, tomorrow it's violence, and next week it will be religious intolerance. There are a lot of people in this world who have decided that the best way to change the world is to shut down conflicting viewpoints, and "think of the children!" has become the rallying cry of the oppressor.

James, kudos for taking part in Banned Books Week.

Kenny said...

P.S. Graham, most of the proposals to "ban" books are not handed down by the federal or state government (who generally pay their lawyers enough to know better), but are enacted by city councils, school boards, library advisory committees and other local government bodies, usually in response to a "concerned citizen" who is upset about something little Johnny brought home from the library.

Rachel said...

James! I'm a bookseller for Barnes and Noble, and I just finished reading an ARC of The Maze Runner. It's absolutely fantastic. I'm sure with the coming holiday season, it'll do very well, especially for boys. And I do have to ask, is there a sequel?

Diva Donna said...

Banning, burning, bah humbug. Down with the book haters.

On another note. 7 days? Is it true? Can it be real? Will the hottest new title on the Random House Fall Release list be only 7 days away?????
Congrats.

James Dashner said...

Mary, thanks for the contest! Everyone go over and enter.

And Rachel: welcome! I'm always excited to have a bookseller visit my blog. Thanks for the nice compliment.

And yes, this is a trilogy, and Book 2 (THE SCORCH TRIALS) is already complete. Thanks for asking!

Diva Donna, yes. 7 days. Wow.

Kaylie said...

The books you mentioned made me scratch my head...I couldn't remember what could possibly be so objectionable that people would want to censor them. Which goes to show that what one person might dislike, another might not and it's not fair to make that decision for the reader.

Graham Chops said...

Kenny--

It's all one big identity in my understanding. It might not come from Big Brother himself, but public schools are government-run, hence my abbreviated accusation. I understand why you had to say it in lawyer-talk though :-)

Kenny said...

Lawyer-talk! You, sir, have cut me to the quick. I demand satisf--

--oh, right. Law school. I knew that would come back to bite me. I knew it!

Anyway, Graham, my favorite point to make to people during Banned Book Week is that while schools and libraries are "government-run," the government in this country answers to the people, and while that is arguably less true at higher levels of government, it remains very true of local government, where the books get "banned."

In other words: anti-government, revolutionary-type books rarely get banned; books that expose children to anything more thought-provoking or self-exploring than the Jonas Brothers on Tour, however, are automatically suspect.

If James is lucky, some overzealous parents will object to the main ways Maze Runner emulates Lord of the Flies and he'll get banned, too! (I won't be more specific than that, as we like to avoid spoilers, but several story aspects that get Lord of the Flies banned are present in James' book, too). The press that results from making this list is better than a full-time publicist. d^_^b

James Dashner said...

Oh, yes! I'd love it if my book got banned. haha

Graham Chops said...

That's just good common sense--the best way to doom something to obscurity forever is to completely ignore it. If you put out a list of banned books, you're only telling people to look at them so they know why. It's the same reason why people slow down to watch when a cop pulls someone over, or when there's an accident on the freeway.

Just kidding; they only slow down because they're tools.

Nemo said...

Do you people actually read the "Banned Book" literature, or just skim the sound bites?

1. "The Government" does not ban books.

2. All the titles on the list include self-reported requests for removal or even consideration of removal for any reason.

3. Just because a book makes the list does not mean it was "banned."

4. Yes, we are a Republic, and therefore run by The People. But what some say is that The People aren't smart enough to govern themselves. If the parents of a school want a book to be removed from the shelves, do these folks not also have the right of free speech?

5. Not every book is appropriate for every grade or every reader.

6. Asking for a book to removed from library shelves is not the same as "burning" or "banning" the book.

7. Not every book that wins an award is really great literature.

8. Harry Potter is not a book, he is a character in a series of books... not all of them equally good.

9. Books requested for removal from library shelves are not being "censored." Censorship is the prohibition or blockage of material, not taking a book off a shelf.

10. Did you reach this far? good... you really can read. Before you praise or condemn any book, READ IT. And then read a few hundred others. And THEN decide whether it is great literature or not.

Taffy said...

There were a few books I read last year that were YA on the library shelf. After I read them, I told the librarians there were adult not YA. They changed the shelving. I didn't ask to ban the books, just raised awareness I guess.
The neighbor boy was telling about the protest he was organize at his library because they were banning books. But he found out it was part of 'banned books' week.
I was surprised at the list of banned books. I haven't looked at it for a few years.

James Dashner said...

Nemo, I always appreciate seeing the other side of things! Thank you for reminding us that no issue is black and white.

The only thing I would say is that of course any parent has the right to say whatever he or she wants. No one is saying that the people who vehemently campaigned to have HP taken out of school libraries should be thrown in jail.

But it begins to violate others' rights when his or her opinion is forced on others by taking away their opportunity to read a book.

Your definition of censorship, to me, is just semantics. Another parent or teacher or librarian forcing his or her opinion on what my child can or cannot read is censoring. Use a different word if you like - it's the principle that matters.

And yes, different books are appropriate for different grade levels. Publishers do their best to give guidelines for ages. This is where all that gray area comes in. Very difficult.

I really appreciate your comments. Thanks for being brave enough to make your points in such a book crazy crowd!

My only irritations: Did you really think we didn't understand that Harry Potter is not the name of a book per se? We were obviously referring to the series and its books both collectively and individually. And your last item was a bit mean spirited. But I've said far worse! haha

Thanks again for your comments.

nikkimantyla said...

Anybody remember the funny scene at the PTA meeting in Field of Dreams? I showed it to my college writing class last night. It's a hilarious take on book banning ("Step aside, you Nazi cow!").

The crazy part, though, is that I read the comments on this week's WSJ op-ed piece in favor of censorship, and the commenters really sounded like the movie clip with name calling and everything! So, James, thanks for keeping the discussion respectful.

I'm excited to read Maze Runner!

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Some of us have been discussing this on Facebook - and particularly the responses to Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak. Such important issues get raised, so many kids are really able to connect through them - it's really too bad that some people come along and want to ban these powerful books.

Kenny said...

Nemo, Nemo.

1. "The Government" does not ban books.

I already made the point that "the government" is not a single coherent entity. Government agencies ban books in various ways (e.g. "from the library" or "from the school library"), and when they do, the legal fiction that "the government" is acting is fully coherent.

2. All the titles on the list include self-reported requests for removal or even consideration of removal for any reason.

Kind of. It is actually limited to those books that are being considered due to content.

3. Just because a book makes the list does not mean it was "banned."

Right. It also includes books that were almost banned, but for the valiant efforts of concerned citizens. What's your point?

4. If the parents of a school want a book to be removed from the shelves, do these folks not also have the right of free speech?

Sure they do. But we shouldn't listen to them, because they're idiots. And calling them idiots doesn't deny them their speech at all.

5. Not every book is appropriate for every grade or every reader.

You just used the empty rhetorical word "appropriate." What do we mean by appropriate? Do we mean in a technical sense? Lots of kids read above grade level, should the library not accommodate them? Or do we mean in a moral sense? That you don't want your children bringing home a particular book doesn't mean it shouldn't be available to their peers, does it?

No library has space for every single book ever printed, and the decision to "stock" a book (so to speak) is normally left to librarians. When we take away that discretion, based on content, we are making a play at censorship.

6. Asking for a book to removed from library shelves is not the same as "burning" or "banning" the book.

Yes, it is, in the sense that many people cannot afford to buy whatever books they want. Libraries exist as a grand contribution to our collective culture and intelligence. There are some people who can only read what they can get at the library. If they can't get it there, you may as well have burned it for all they get to read it.

7. Not every book that wins an award is really great literature.

And not all great literature is fun to read. The best way to decide what is or is not worth reading is to decide for yourself. Which requires you to read the book. Which for many people means it has to be available at (or through) the library.

8. Harry Potter is not a book, he is a character in a series of books.

Your failure to generously interpret what others have said in a sophomoric attempt to appear intelligent does not impress anyone here.

9. Books requested for removal from library shelves are not being "censored." Censorship is the prohibition or blockage of material, not taking a book off a shelf.

No. Censorship is what happens when a government agency suppresses a work based on its content. If you know anything about First Amendment law, you'll recognize that "content-based discrimination" is a powerful term of art and a great way to win a First Amendment suit (not legal advice, I am not a lawyer... yet).

10. Did you reach this far? good... you really can read.

Does your condescending arrogance win you many friends?

Before you praise or condemn any book, READ IT. And then read a few hundred others. And THEN decide whether it is great literature or not.

I'm not sure what has you stuck on this "great literature" kick, but the point of Banned Books Week is to raise awareness of government-related efforts to prevent people (usually children) from reading the books that those people want to read. It's not an argument about librarian discretion. It's an argument that librarians should retain that discretion; that parents should have the right to say what their own children can read, but not to deny other children the same opportunity by stripping the shelves of anything potentially "offensive" to anyone.

Heather B. Moore said...

I'm surprised at how many of those books I've read on the banned list, and didn't even know they had been banned anywhere. Now I'm trying to think back and wonder why they would have been banned.

When I finish reading a great YA book, I tell my kids they can't read it for a variety of reasons (too much kissing, too scary, etc.) Then I leave it around the house to see which one snatches it up first. Because, of course, I'm hoping to intrigue them into reading the book. Reverse psychology is great to use on kids.

We were talking about weird books the other day, and my 14 year old told my 12 year old all about how strange The Giver was (on the list of banned books). By the time he was done, she wanted to read it too.

I think "banning books" makes those books all that much more appealing to readers.

Nemo said...

Kenny, Kenny.

Do you think that you will silence those who disagree with your bloviating, by tripling the number of words they use? Or that by making directed personal attacks (letting slide James' "small minded" crack) you look more intelligent yourself?

Sloppy thinking, my Sophist friend.

First, some statistics: In 2005 (the latest year available) there were 172,000 "new titles" published (1). According to the ALA Banned Book Week site, there were 513 "challenges" to books in 2008 (2), for an approximate challenge to new book ratio of 0.003%. Let’s be very clear: just because a book is on this list DOES NOT mean that it is not freely available from a wide variety of sources, such as another of the 123,000 public libraries in the United States (a number which does not include school libraries).

Without bothering to quote you, your assertion is that book banning is done by quasi-official government agencies such as school boards and libraries. Sloppy thinking!

According to the ALA (3), over 50% of “challenges” are instigated by parents… excuse me, to you they would be “idiots.” Oh, and by the way, the overall number of challenges has consistently declined since 1995, by a total of 32% (3). Less than 10% of challenges initiate with any government official or organization.

By what yardstick is one a “concerned citizen” versus an “idiot”? From your diatribe, it would seem to be their level of agreement with your own opinions.
.
“That you don't want your children bringing home a particular book doesn't mean it shouldn't be available to their peers, does it?”

By that sort of sloppy reasoning the Kama Sutra, a well-known and generally considered adult picture book, should be available in a Kindergarten library.

You seem to have a particular dislike of great literature. As you point out, no library can hold everything ever printed… so why waste space with specious material? If my tax dollars are going to buy a book, why should it buy something to which I would object?

As for the works of JK Rowling: my point is the sloppy thinking of the internet. “Harry Potter” as we all know well is seven books… and only the most rabid fan would claim that they are all great works of literature. In fact, a strong argument can be made that the later volumes significantly detract from the overall value of the set by their inevitable lumping with the earlier works.

Kenny, if I was trying to impress you I would fawn over your prose and praise you for your clever witticisms. Rather I am trying to elevate the conversation beyond the buzzing of drones. Or put another way, I am trying to help the Edmunds among us to shed their dragon skins.

You seem familiar with the list… but for those who are not, find it at http://www.ila.org/pdf/2008banned.pdf. This is the ALA List of Books Challenged or Banned in 2007-2008. Read for yourself what was challenged and why.

Parents: be idiots! Exercise your parental RESPONSIBILITY to speak for the welfare of your child!

“Outside of a dog a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx

(1)http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Books-published-per-country-per-year
(2)http://bannedbooksweek.org/Mapofbookcensorship.html
(3)http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/challengesbytype/index.cfm

James Dashner said...

Kenny vs. Nemo

You guys are good matches for each other.

Nemo, when did I make a "small minded" crack? I thought I was quite civil. And I can appreciate yours and Kenny's comments.

I totally agree on parents being involved. Very, very, very much so. But I sure don't want someone else parenting my child! If I don't want my kid to read a book, then I'll ban it in my house. Not at the library.

And you make a great point about extremes. Kama Sutra shouldn't be in the kids picture book section. Elmo's ABCs should. It's where you draw the line somewhere in that middle that makes the whole thing a difficult issue.

My vote is to trust the publishers' age recommendations and then let the parents do their own parenting if they disagree.

Graham Chops said...

Oh my sweet death, people. This is what we have a forum for.

Graham Chops said...

Saying "the government" is easier than saying "the school board's parental complaint interface blah blah blah" because most of us have the good common decency to assume that the rest of us know to whom we're referring when we talk about this kind of stuff, because we don't want to throw our weight around on an author's blog by showing how smart we think we are, because then we'd be the same kind of people who slow down to look at traffic accidents, and the world already has enough of those.

One week to Maze. <----(back on topic, here)

Maprilynne said...

"First, some statistics: In 2005 (the latest year available) there were 172,000 "new titles" published (1). According to the ALA Banned Book Week site, there were 513 "challenges" to books in 2008 (2), for an approximate challenge to new book ratio of 0.003%. Let’s be very clear: just because a book is on this list DOES NOT mean that it is not freely available from a wide variety of sources, such as another of the 123,000 public libraries in the United States (a number which does not include school libraries).


According to the ALA (3), over 50% of “challenges” are instigated by parents… excuse me, to you they would be “idiots.” Oh, and by the way, the overall number of challenges has consistently declined since 1995, by a total of 32% (3). Less than 10% of challenges initiate with any government official or organization."

Just because something that is wrong is not happening frequently, does not make it cease to be wrong.


"By that sort of sloppy reasoning the Kama Sutra, a well-known and generally considered adult picture book, should be available in a Kindergarten library."

Oh come now, no one is advocating putting adult books in the kindergarten library. But children's books of all kinds, should be there.

"You seem to have a particular dislike of great literature. As you point out, no library can hold everything ever printed… so why waste space with specious material? If my tax dollars are going to buy a book, why should it buy something to which I would object?"

This is not about great literature. This is about people who object to content having the power to take that choice away from others. The definition is an oft debated subject, but that simply is not the subject here. No one is saying all banned books are great literature, or that all banned books are smut. Just that all books should be given a fair shot.

"As for the works of JK Rowling: my point is the sloppy thinking of the internet. “Harry Potter” as we all know well is seven books… and only the most rabid fan would claim that they are all great works of literature. In fact, a strong argument can be made that the later volumes significantly detract from the overall value of the set by their inevitable lumping with the earlier works."

Horse. Dead. Stop. Beating.

"Kenny, if I was trying to impress you I would fawn over your prose and praise you for your clever witticisms. Rather I am trying to elevate the conversation beyond the buzzing of drones. Or put another way, I am trying to help the Edmunds among us to shed their dragon skins."

Narnia reference, lovely. (By the way, The Chronicles of Narnia--I better use it's correct Name lest you tell me "Narnia" is not a set of books, but a place--has been often challenge and banned in some places as well.)

"You seem familiar with the list… but for those who are not, find it at http://www.ila.org/pdf/2008banned.pdf. This is the ALA List of Books Challenged or Banned in 2007-2008. Read for yourself what was challenged and why."

I have read the list and there is not a single, justifiable reason on it.

"Parents: be idiots! Exercise your parental RESPONSIBILITY to speak for the welfare of your child!"

YOUR child. Speak for the welfare of YOUR child. Do not impose your values and standards and--quite frankly--often bigotry, upon MY child. Or anyone else's child! Please, teach whatever you want in your home. Allow or disallow whatever books you want in YOUR home. But don't take that choice away from other parents.

The entire point of not banning books is to allow readers to choose for themselves, to allow parents to become involved in their child's reading choices, to allow everyone the right to read what they want. As I commented on my own blog, to twist the old adage, I may not like the books you read, but I will defend to the death your right to read them.

A.

Maprilynne said...

"One week to Maze. <----(back on topic, here)"

*snort* My dear Graham, with all due respect, when a blog entry is entitles "Banned Books Week," I do believe that IS the topic.:D

Besides, James likes it when we argue.:D

Kenny said...

Do you think that you will silence those who disagree with your bloviating, by tripling the number of words they use?

That I am verbose is well known. It is not a rhetorical device. Just personal style.

Or that by making directed personal attacks...you look more intelligent yourself?

My ad hominems, however, were rhetorical, always intended to highlight yours.

Sloppy thinking, my Sophist friend.

I recognize you mean it in the pejorative sense, but if you knew what I know about philosophy and sophistry, you would realize that calling me a "sophist" amounts to feeble mudslinging at best.

First, some statistics...

It is never the statistics that really matter, but whose interpretation you buy. I don't buy yours.

...your assertion is that book banning is done by quasi-official government agencies such as school boards and libraries. Sloppy thinking! ... According to the ALA, over 50% of "challenges" are instigated by parents...

The challenges instigated by parents go nowhere unless some governmental entity formally adopts their resolution. Those books that pass beyond the "challenged" phase are necessarily censored by "the government" as already discussed.

And the "less than 50%" of the remaining challenges come from where... pixies?

Less than 10% of challenges initiate with any government official or organization.

Ohhh. So as long as a problem isn't widespread it isn't a problem at all! You may want to refrain from using the phrase "sloppy thinking" again.

By what yardstick is one a "concerned citizen" versus an "idiot?"

False dichotomy. Ten yard penalty.

From your diatribe, it would seem to be their level of agreement with your own opinions.

It's true that when someone disagrees with me, they are probably an idiot. The alternative scenario is that I am an idiot. If this is borne out by the conversation, I revise my position and am no longer an idiot, and the other person no longer disagrees with me. By the end of the conversation, anyone who still disagrees with me is an idiot. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. d^_~b (And in case your sarcasm detector is broken... that was sarcasm.)

By that sort of sloppy reasoning the Kama Sutra, a well-known and generally considered adult picture book, should be available in a Kindergarten library.

Now you're proof-texting. The librarian's discretion, which I mentioned, is sufficient to address your make-believe concern in this case.

You seem to have a particular dislike of great literature.

Your reading comprehension is sorely lacking. I have said nothing about my taste in literature. I repeat: this conversation has nothing to do with "great literature." That many great book have been banned at some point is rhetorically valuable but far from "the point" of Banned Books Week.

"...so why waste space with specious material? If my tax dollars are going to buy a book, why should it buy something to which I would object?"

You're seriously going with that old chestnut? Here, let me help: pretend your tax dollars are only going to the programs you support and the policies you like. You'll sleep better at night.

Also...specious? Isn't all fiction technically specious?

Kenny, if I was trying to impress you I would fawn over your prose and praise you for your clever witticisms.

I think you just did...?

Rather I am trying to elevate the conversation beyond the buzzing of drones.

So, um. Epic fail, then. Buzz. Next time you try to elevate a conversation, might I suggest you not feign surprise that the audience can read? And avoid insinuating that everyone's comments prior to yours were worthless noise?

Parents: be idiots! Exercise your parental RESPONSIBILITY to speak for the welfare of your child!

And be ready to face up to parents much wiser than yourself, who will tell you to do your parenting at home and keep your paws off the school library. Ideophobia is not wisdom. It is a disease.

Graham Chops said...

29 comments, and I think it took less time to scroll down to the bottom of the post with 100 comments on it. Wow.

Aprilynne, you know what they say about arguing on the Internet :-)

numberonedashnerfan said...

In my oppinoin No book should be banned, Freedom of speech.....Also I think it would be great and dandy when Schools have all the money they need for us to get an education and the military has to do car washes and bake sales to get the stuff they need to keep our country safe....EDUCATION is important without it OUR country would be in shambles we wouldnt need a government or millitary if we didnt have education.....Books are the base of knowledge..... ANYWHO I cant wait for maze to come out....TIKI TIKI DUDE

Maprilynne said...

Gee, Graham, no! What do they say about arguing on the Internet? :D

Panda Queen said...

I love the Giver! (and Harry Potter, of course. But who doesn't love Harry Potter??)

Nemo said...

James,

Sorry, my bad. You called my comment "a bit mean spirited," not "small minded." I guess I was thinking of Kenny.

Prize give-a-way to anyone who can give a verifiable reference to anyone who can give a verifiable refernece to a challenge to any of the 7 Narnia books.

Or for that matter a challenge to the Freddy the Pig books of Walter R. Brooks... now THERE'S classic literature for kids.

And a third prize to anyone who points out where I actually advocate the banning of books rather than supporting the rights of parents to challenge authority.

Give me back my tax dollars wasted on public schools and I will let you have any book you want in there, challenge free!

Kenny said...

We're not your research assistants, Nemo.

Graham's gentle criticism notwithstanding, I enjoy a lively debate, even on the Internet. But I'm starting to feel like I'm beating up a defenseless child, so I'm going to take your digression as concession and step away from the podium.

You all know my mind; ideas are precious, perhaps especially the ones we find most challenging. Banned Book Week is a great way to raise awareness that, even if it isn't a "big" problem "right now," the problem of censorship is always lurking.

He's all yours, James. I know you'll go easy on him. d^_~b

Deb said...

Reading through the comments makes me want to sing Kum Bay Ya and light a candle for Kenny and Nemo. Come By Here, boys, Come By Here.

But you can't deny the entertainment factor.

Aprilynne, you're looking hot as always. Me-ow!

Nemo said...

Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie,
kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came ot to play,
Georgie Porgie ran away.


Kenny, no concession, save for yours. You bring no facts, only insults and attacks.

Maprilynne, no justifiable reason for a challenge to The Kite Runner? "Challenged as appropriate study in tenth-grade honors English class...because the novel depicts a sodomy rape in graphic detail." So the precious idea that Kenny is defending is exposing 15 and 16 year olds to this kind of thing? Is the idea that the children have already been exposed to it? Parents are “idiots” for questioning why this is something their children are reading in school?

James, how are parents to “do their own parenting” when they are not allowed to challenge what is used in the school? And why should I trust the publisher? Should I trust RJ Reynolds? Both want to sell product.

Graham Chops, et tu? Where is the common decency not to be insulting to someone you do not know? The Internet is not a source of good information or a place where “people” bother with facts… look at Kenny.

To all: James on down took exception to my 10th point, that you had read that far. To quote from Frank Herbert’s Dune, when I display a garment of general cut why do you insist it is meant for your own frame? Only Maprilynne indicates she has actually read the document on why books were banned. She does not agree… fine. But my question remains: why do the challengers not have the right to ask the question, but the rest who object to the objection have all the rights?

Is my mistake in thinking the Dashner fans are unable to face a challenge of reason? (Spare me the flames, people… it is a serious question since there is no serious response EXCEPT from James himself).

Apparently, Kenny does not need the prize, but let me be explicit. I will send a $25 Amazon gift certificate to anyone, even Kenny, who can do any of the following: 1. Identify where I advocate the banning of books (I support the right to question authority, something Kenny does not allow); 2. A verifiable reference to the challenge or ban of ANY book by C.S. Lewis.

FYI, if anyone wises to Challenge James’ book(s), you may do so here: http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/challengeslibrarymaterials/challengereporting/onlinechallengeform/index.cfm

Graham Chops said...

Oh I'm so sorry Nemo. I'll try to elevate myself to your level of decency, complete with self-aggrandizing statements in the form of a 37-paragraph harangue.

It's funny how you're the only one to personally respond to my "insult", which everyone else understood as a blanket statement that arguing on the Internet is plain stupid.

But don't worry; I'd say that to your face too.

numberonedashnerfan said...

http://www.etownian.com/dbltruck/09.27.2007/08-09_Issue05.pdf

http://www2.lib.udel.edu/subj/lgst/resguide/wizardex/wizardbib.htm

http://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/syltguides/fullview/R35VVPN7OSI8N

...theres your refences to the challange of the ban of c.s. lewis books... And im still sticking to my comment above and ya I've read the website james posted and i agree with his comments ....

Nemo said...

NumberOneDashnerFan, thank you for the links. Two point to the same reference (a single 1990 incident, but a counter) and the third actually makes no citation, but still.... $25 to you. Send me your e-mail at authortours@gmail.com and I will send you your $$. I did not look deeply enough to find it: thanks for persevering.

Graham, what can I say? I regret you have so much angst and so little to say on the topic. Apparently I have struck a nerve for you.

James, I leave you to your fans. May they never turn on you...

Graham Chops said...

Angst? I don't think you're reading my words in the same spirit that I'm writing them. Lot gets lost in text.

In the end, no hard feelings, brother.

Mrs. Berrett said...

Without jumping into the Kenny/Nemo foray (Team Kenny!), I'd like to give an illustration to my opposition to book banning.
I live in an extremely liberal town on the East Coast (surprising right?) while my sister-in-law lives in the heart of conservatism. When they came to visit she would have her sixteen year old son leave the room any time we discussed adult topics (anything ranging from gangs to homosexuality). To me she was doing him no favors because how is he supposed to come to his own decisions about things when he has never had the opportunity to even think about them.
Now, another niece came out to visit and she read some E. Lockhart while she was here, including The Boy Book, which was recently pulled from shelfs in Texas. I called her parents first to see if they were okay with her reading it because of its content. I can honestly say it made a big impact on her. Her conversations went from which boy is hot to do any of these boys deserve her time. Big jump for that 15 year old girl.
I think the little girl who read it in Texas was obviously not ready for it. However, others were and the book will obviously be beneficial. So when the library has already deemed it age appropriate (i.e. no Kama Sutra in the elementary school) the parents should step in within their own range of control. They should take the book from their daughter, but not from everyone.
My brother is a fourth grade teacher and had The Giver challenged. The mother claimed she had no problems with language or violent books, but the stirrings Jonah felt were entirely inappropriate. So my brother gave her a copy and asked her to read it before he read any more with the class. She changed her mind because she thought it was great. Her initial misconception would have had that whole class miss out on a literary great because she didn't like it.
I fully agree with parents right to parent, but only their own children. If something is wrong for your child, then take your child out of it. As for me, I want my child to be aware and thoughtful and I believe the way to do it is through age-appropriate, thought-provoking literature.

Penelope said...

And what if the mother did have an objection after reading the book? What then? And how many parents need to object before it is removed from the class? One? Six? Half? All? Or is the teacher a better judge of what is right for the students than the parents, and if he thinks the class should read it, they should?

brickhouse79 said...

While I recognize it is difficult to decipher sarcasm and lighthearted debate from outright meanness online, I am a little shocked at what I've read and could not help but joining the fray.

The undertones of fear mongering and speaking in extremes that are found in some of these comments are what I find so disturbing...SOOO much more than what might happen if my child is asked to read a book for school I find questionable.

For me, it is as simple as this: If you object, you have the right to impose restrictions on YOUR OWN children and ask that they receive a different assignment (if that is the issue). Accommodations must be and will be made (or it becomes a whole other legal issue).

However, you do NOT have the right to impose those same restrictions on other students if their parents DO approve.

Sure, sometimes this causes us some discomfort as a society. Sometimes it makes situations difficult and, dare I say, hard. SUCK IT UP! It’s the price of freedom in a society of diverse backgrounds and beliefs.

I could talk about this for hours, but others already have… much more eloquently than I ever could, and no doubt-- it would simply be a waste of time.

Congrats on the release of Maze Runner coming James! I hope your book gets banned too! So so violent...*hibbily jibbilies*

Penelope said...

"if their parents DO approve."

Do they approve? Have they all read the books in question? or is it the assumption of the parents that the school has the best interests of the children at heart?

By what qualification do those who have selected the books deem them of value?

A co-worker's wife is a teacher. Last night they had a "curriculum night" for the class of 25. 3 parents showed up.

brickhouse79 said...

Ok. Good point. A revision then. "...if thier parents have expressed no objection." The point of low parent particpation is moot really. That is a societal issue that is much deeper than the concept of book banning.

The other questions you ask are not really things that can be addressed in a blog comments field. But if you are inferring that schools do NOT have the best interest of the kids in mind (in a social agenda sort of way, not a corrupt beauracracy sort of way) and that they purposefully choose books of little value... I think this becomes an etirely different debate.

I still stand by my comments (with the revision of course :P) as I would likely be one of those 3 who showed up.

RobisonWells said...

Penelope said:

"A co-worker's wife is a teacher. Last night they had a "curriculum night" for the class of 25. 3 parents showed up."

That doesn't seem like a big deal to me. I'd be willing to bet that if all 25 parents showed up, those same 3 would be the ones with the complaints. In my mind, there's a big difference between being an attentive, helpful parent and micromanaging your child's life.

(I remember when I was in high school there was a big hulabaloo about an English class wanting kids to read Isabelle Allende's House of the Spirits. In the end, I read the book. I can't even remember what it was about, let alone what was objectionable about it. On the other hand, I can remember a lot of disturbingly dirty jokes I heard in gym class. You can't manage every "inappropriate" thing that a kid is going to hear. The best you can do is teach your kids your values, communicate with them openly, and help them make good decisions. That sounds a lot more effective to me than trying to approve and vet every single curriculum requirement.

James Dashner said...

Brickhouse79 - that would be so cool to be banned! We can only hope...

I'm always happy to see a good debate, and I love seeing both sides of the story. Nothing in this world is black and white, that's for sure.

Thanks to everyone - I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the comments this week!

Nemo - no hard feelings from my side. Hope that's mutual.

And Kenny - you are so mean! I bet you and Nemo could get along just great.

I think we can all agree on this: Books are good. And the Falcons are the best NFL team. And I go on tour in 6 days and I'm terrified. And there's no food that can't be improved with a big block of cheese sitting next to it.

Graham Chops said...

I can agree with 75% of that. The whole Falcons=best-NFL-team is a little too big to swallow.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

James - Only six more days until the Maze Runner is officially out! I'm so excited for you!!!

Screwtape said...

Wormwood,

While I applaud your obviously successful strategy in this limited forum to simultaneously crow the virtues of "free speech" and "ideas" while shouting down the voice of any dissenter, you must be cautious of using this stratagem too much. Do remember the parable of The Devil's Advocate.

I remain, your dutiful uncle.

Epsilon said...

I think regardless of our take on parental involvement the answer is simple:

Create a book rating system that works in the same way it does for movies or video games. The Motion Picture Association of America looks at every movie and then rates it according to uniform standards. Parents can get a good idea of what the movies are like, but no one is limited in what movies they can watch. Schools can only show movies that exceed a certain rating by having the parents sign permission slips. If a child's parents don't want them to see it, then that child won't, but the rest of the class will still be able to.

As far as I know, there hasn't been much controversy over the availability of movies. If it can work for film, why can't it work for books too?

I see where Nemo is coming from on points 3, 4, 7, & 5 of his original post. I'm apathetic about 1 & 2. 6-10 annoy me, though.

6. Asking for a book to removed from library shelves is not the same as "burning" or "banning" the book.

If stopping readers from reading a book isn't banning, I'm curious to know what your definition is.

7. Not every book that wins an award is really great literature.

Having been a victim of the Grapes of Wrath and the Scarlet Letter, I agree with this. What annoys me is that it's off topic. None of the posts have disputed this, and it has nothing to do with whether books are banned or not. Case in point, Huck Finn is considered great literature, and it's near the top of the "disputed books" list.

8. Harry Potter is not a book, he is a character in a series of books... not all of them equally good.

This is also off topic. It also states the obvious. All the books in any series are going to be different amounts of good. Finally, this point doesn't support his thesis, which is that parents should have control over what their children read, unless I've drastically misunderstood what he was trying to get at.

9. Books requested for removal from library shelves are not being "censored." Censorship is the prohibition or blockage of material, not taking a book off a shelf.

Dito Dashner's statement about the idea being the important thing.

10. Did you reach this far? good... you really can read. Before you praise or condemn any book, READ IT. And then read a few hundred others. And THEN decide whether it is great literature or not.

Ditto my comment on #7. Also Ditto Dashner's comment on this.

Graham Chops said...

Epsilon--

There's not an "official" department of book review ratings (I dare not say "the government" rates books 'cause then I'll incur the wrath of the-lawyer-who-shall-not-be-named---j/k Kenny haha)...anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, book rating office...

BUT, you can go to ratedreads.com, and that's pretty close.

Banning books is crappy behavior, but applying an age-appropriate rating system is good common sense. When I was in 7th grade we had to get permission slips to watch PG-13 movies in class, I think the same standard ought to be applied to other media content on an equivalent scale.

Britt said...

Wow.

Should not have been reading this while drinking chocolate milk. :D

And call me crazy, but I see a big difference between expressing concerns about a book's appropriateness for classroom reading (which may or may not lead to the teacher choosing a different book instead) and insisting a book be removed from a library. While I might not like my child being required to read The Kite Runner in his 10th grade class (since that was the example used) and would likely go to the teacher with concerns, that is not the same as saying the kids shouldn't have any access to it.

Off to see if Maze Runner is in the library system yet....

Britt said...

Stupid thing won't let me subscribe to future comments unless I was already signed in...

*(g)rumble rumble rumble*

:D

Vanessa said...

James, you know that if your book was banned, we'd meet in secret in the middle of the night at your house to get a copy and read it in secret places forever more. And then we would put up a protest.

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