Banned Books Week: A Wrinkle in Time & The Outsiders

Today begins Banned Books Week, observed every year during the last week of September. As Sharon pointed out in her recent WWW Wednesday post, banned books in this country typically refers to challenged books or books that have been banned from a location or two (or sometimes several).

This week, I am going to write about two or three commonly challenged/banned books each day. Before I can get started with that, I’d like to continue a rant I started over at Sharon’s blog:

Obviously there’s a certain degree to which books shouldn’t be allowed in schools (The Joy of Sex or Kama Sutra, for example), but most books that have been banned from school libraries have been banned for ridiculous reasons. And I oppose any book being banned from a public library. Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Press . . . they’re pretty damn important.

Whether or not you agree with something . . . whether or not something offends you . . . whether or not something falls in line with your particular religious or moral beliefs . . . I don’t care. I have the right to write about anything I want. And I have the right to read about anything I want.

Listen to this song, Books are Burning by XTC

My favorite line – “And you know where they burn books, people are next.”

———-

And now on to my book selections for today!

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
I first read A Wrinkle in Time in 5th grade. It quickly became one of my favorites and over the course of the following two years, I would read it 4 more times. I was, of course, oblivious to the fact that it was a commonly challenged and banned book.

In my sophomore year of college, I took a Contexts of Schooling Class. It was in that class that I first became aware of the phenomenon of banned books. We were given a list of commonly challenged books and A Wrinkle in Time was at the top of the list. I was completely and utterly baffled. So naturally, I went to the bookstore, bought the book, and read it again.

I still couldn’t figure it out. Apparently, the book had been banned because it taught demon worship and mysticism.

Come again?

My first reaction was, “But . . . but . . . they talk about Jesus as a great fighter against evil. I don’t get it.”

When I started doing research for some of this week’s posts, I came across this gem – “The complainant objected to the book’s listing the name of Jesus Christ together with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders when referring to those who defend the earth against evil.”

Oh! Now, I get it. Bad, bad book for suggesting that anyone else in the history of time has done great works against evil!

{Shakes head} {Rolls eyes}

A Wrinkle in Time is nothing more than a fanciful tale of good versus evil, where good wins. It’s about children who realize their greater worth and potential. It’s about love.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
When I was about 14 years old, my mom said, “Dayle, you have to watch this movie with me. It was one of my favorites when I was your age.” And so I sat down and watched The Outsiders with her. And I loved it. After the movie, she explained that the movie was based on a book and that the book was one of her favorites as well. She also told me that the book’s author was only 16 when she wrote it! That was so totally cool to hear . . . especially as a young aspiring writer!

I’m fairly certain that it was the very same week when I checked The Outsiders out of my school library.

While the book was set in a time with which I was unfamiliar, the issue between social classes was certainly new to me. At the time, I was attending a suburban school and I can still remember some of the ridiculous reactions some kids would have when I told them I was from Philadelphia.

I actually had no idea that this book had been banned until last week. The book has been challenged and banned throughout the years for profane language, violence, and for its depiction of drug and alcohol use.

I have news for these people: kids see this stuff . . . in real life! That’s what inspired S.E. Hinton, A 16 YEAR OLD girl to write the book in first place. It was inspired because a friend of hers was harassed for being a “greaser.”

The Outsiders remains one of my all time favorite books (and movies) because it shows that family and love do not have to come from the traditional, conventional “mom, dad, brothers and sisters.” I love it because it’s real. I love it because it doesn’t sugar coat. I love it because it’s something that real kids can relate to.

What banned books are you appalled by? Do you think there is ever a reason that a book should be banned?

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20 responses to this post.

  1. I enjoy your post. I’m also highlighting different books that have been banned or challenged. I think some of my favorites are To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye. I don’t think there’s ever a good reason to ban a book, since we all have different ideas.

    Reply

    • Thank you, Carolyn!

      I’m about to head out to dinner, but I’m definitely looking forward to checking out your posts on banned books. 🙂 (James and the Giant Peach is on my list for this week as well!)

      Reply

  2. I never knew that “A Wrinkle in Time” was on the list. I never would have thought that – I always thought of Madeleine L’Engle as deeply spiritual.

    One of my all time favorite books, for some reason I was compelled to pick up the book yesterday and revisit some old friends. What a wonderful memory I recalled as I opened the book to see this was my signed copy, “For Jennifer – tesser well.” I went to see Ms. L’Engle speak years ago when I lived in Connecticut. She was in the children’s library but there were more adults to see her than children. She was as lovely and wonderful as her books.

    Reply

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Jennifer!

      I felt the same thing (about Madeleine L’Engle being spiritual). When I first saw that it was on the commonly banned/challenged list, I was shocked. It still baffles me!

      That is so incredibly awesome that you were able to see her speak and get a signed copy of the book!

      Reply

  3. Never read either of these books YET. I own “Outsiders”, it is over at my parents somewhere. One of my best friends absolutely ADORES the book and wanted me to read it and watch the movie, and naughty me has yet to do so….BAD SHARON! 😦

    Kids today are exposed to so much stuff at school, in public, in the media, that I don’t think there is much left that a book could show them….of course, as for those sex books you mentioned, those shouldn’t be books kids read at school anyways BUT public libraries…maybe even colleges, why not?

    I need to read “Wrinkle in Time” sometime…isn’t it like a series? Their reasoning for that one is really insane….As a Christian, wouldn’t you believe there are people on the Earth doing good and trying to defeat evil? Apparently whoever spoke out against the book was doing his part to work evil instead of defeat it….huh?

    Reply

    • Bad Sharon, indeed! The way that you read, you could probably finish that book in one sitting! 🙂

      Any kid who is that sheltered that they have not been exposed to any kind of violence, substance abuse and profane language, is probably not in any kind of school to begin with. In fact, that child probably never leaves the house . . . so you don’t have to worry about “The Outsiders” being in a school library!

      You definitely need to read “A Wrinkle in Time”! It is a series . . . “A Swiftly Tilting Planet,” “A Wind in the Door” and one other one . . . and I am probably mixing up the order! I only read three of them, but they were all fabulous 🙂 And I agree, whoever spoke out against the book was definitely on the evil side!

      Reply

  4. Posted by Hooper-X on September 25, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    People don’t even realize how many books are being questioned and how hard now. I caught a piece yesterday about the Keeley Thomson- Demon Girl thing yesterday and that is so much worse than a few library challenges.

    In short, a group of people got together and decided a book that wasn’t even out yet (released on-line some how) was offensive for religious reasons and is pressuring the little online publishing company putting it out to kill the book.

    Thats…

    Insane comes to mind to be honest. They want to kill a book before anyone can even see it at all and are trying to use writing campaigns and threats of boycotts to do it?

    Luckily Orange Cat Publishing is and indy outfit and is just giving the books away right now. Hard to take out economically, but still, a bunch of people screaming for censorship before a book is out is scary to me.

    My point is that banned and suppressed books aren’t just a thing of the nineteen fifties. This is still going on today, as you read this. just waiting for people to sit back and do nothing.

    Reply

    • I’m not at all surprised by this, and I certainly agree with insane.

      I was completely unfamiliar with this book prior to reading your comment, but it is now on my list of must reads!

      You bring up a lot of very important information. I wrote “typically” for a reason in the first paragraph. One of the posts I’ve been planning for later this weeks includes The LawFare Project, which is basically about fighting against the use of the law as a weapon of war. One of the ways this is done is by squashing free speech and free press through the use of baseless lawsuits and basically intimidating people into remaining silent.

      There is a lot going on that most people prefer not to see.

      Reply

  5. How is it that I never read The Outsiders? My sister and I loved the movie when we were kids! We even named our dog, Sodapop. 🙂 It is insane to me that this book was banned! How silly! Like you said the book is about issues that kids face in real life everyday.

    My parents were really particular about the things my sister and I read or watched on TV, but they never tried to force those veiws on other parents. Which is essentially what book banning is to me – forcing your views on others. If you don’t want your kid to read something, don’t let them. But don’t tell others what they should or shoud not be reading. This is America, we have a right to read what ever we want! 🙂

    This is a great idea for a series, I can’t wait to see what banned books I’ve read, as it’s not something I’ver ever looked in to. A Wrinkle in Time is on my Amazon wishlist, and I think I’m gonna add The Outsiders.

    Reply

    • WordPress just made me approve your comment . . . that was wacky!

      You definitely need to read The Outsiders! I would lend you my copy, but it would probably cost more to ship it back and forth than for you to just buy it 😛

      See . . . what your parents did was exactly what they should have . . . They had a certain set beliefs that they wanted to instill in their children, so they sent you to a Christian school and when that closed (correct me if I’m messing up any facts), they homeschooled. I have absolutely no problems with any of that . . . Like you said, the problem is when one person’s or one group’s opinions and beliefs are pushed on others.

      It seriously disturbs me!

      Reply

      • You got the facts right. 🙂 Yeah, I’m the same way. We live in a free country and everyone has the right to believe whatever they want. To each his own! 🙂

        You probably had to approve my comment because I’m on my Mom’s laptop. For some reason I couldn’t use my e-mail address to comment, I had to use Twitter. Very strange!

        Reply

  6. Hey girl. I’m still on my Internet fast. But I wanted to pop in and say hi because I miss you. I hope you’re doing well. And by the way, A Wrinkle in Time is just about my all-time favorite book ever in the history of the world. : )

    Reply

    • Hello 🙂 . . . Thanks for the quick hello! I miss you too!

      And “A Wrinkle in Time” is one of my all time faves as well. I am soooo looking forward to passing by books on to Abby!

      Reply

  7. Wow! I’ve heard of Japan banning books on the war and China banning certain types of information, but I had no idea that books were banned in North America ever! I’ve read both of those books — Wrinkle in Time on my own and The Outsiders for school. I totally hear you on The Outsiders. Reading about it doesn’t mean that all the youth will convert into them. It’s about being educated and seeing the world as it really is. I’ve always felt that I’ve been kind of sheltered. =P

    Reply

    • The books are technically not banned . . . at least not in the sense that the government has banned them from all locations. But yeah, there are several places that still try to control what is being read.

      I’m not familiar with bannings in Japan, but I know in China the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television can be pretty harsh (and that their “suggestions” are not exactly suggestions), so it wouldn’t surprise me to learn of books being banned.

      “It’s about being educated and seeing the world as it really is.” — Exactly!

      Reply

  8. […] I’d like to give another shout-out to Dayle who has been posting daily this week on Banned Books Week. I invite you all to read each post starting from the beginning! […]

    Reply

  9. […] A Wrinkle in Time and The Outsiders […]

    Reply

  10. […] late aunt who she was named after while telling a beautiful story of love and acceptance. During Banned Books Week, she highlighted daily books that had been challenged. She celebrated the beginning of Autumn with […]

    Reply

  11. […] The point of all of this is that I was completely unprepared. So, sadly, I have not been doing my daily posts reviewing commonly banned and challenged books. If you’re interested, you can check out my posts from last year. There are 8 of them, but here’s the first. […]

    Reply

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