Ever felt like doing something radical and daring, yet simple at the same time? Something that makes an important point, and that you can share with your children? Something that supports a cause others may disagree with, but that won't land you in trouble with the law? Just read your kids one of the hundreds of banned children's books during Banned Books Week, starting Sunday.
The late-September event, which has been held since 1982, is an initiative by the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom. Its purpose: to reject censorship and champion the cause of free access to information for all, no matter how unpopular or discomforting some of that information may be.
Banning certain books from libraries and school curricula has been going on for centuries, much to the despair of educators and kids alike. While certain books might seem like natural targets — To Kill a Mockingbird contains some racially-charged language and even more racially-conscious themes — you might be surprised at what other popular titles have come under fire.
For example, it's hard to imagine a childhood without The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. But in 1928, Chicago Public Library employees took the novel off their shelves under the pretext that the book was "somehow, rather evil for children," according to the Chicago Tribune. Alice in Wonderland and Charlotte's Web, published many decades apart, have both been banned in their day for the irreligious concept that animals can talk. Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved Little House books were challenged by a South Dakota library, per the Christian Science Monitor, for their depiction of Native Americans and Ma's belief that "the only good Indian is a dead Indian."
Even the most innocuous of board books, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, didn't escape the dreaded ban. But this time, it was a simple mistake: The Texas State Board of Education confused the author, Bill Martin Jr., for another writer named Bill Brown who had written a book on Marxism.