Hi there, Bookworms. Next week is Banned Books Week. Every year the American Library Association celebrates the books that have been challenged or banned from schools and libraries. I plan on devoting all of next week’s posts to things I’ve read on the “banned classics” list.
A lot of them are books you’d expect that were challenged for reasons you’d expect. It’s hard to find a comprehensive list of this sort of thing, so I started googling. My selections for next week focus mainly on modern classics, but there are always tons of new works or children’s books that are the object of parents’ ire. I don’t have kids. I don’t think I’d be happy with my 7 year old picking up a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey at school, but otherwise I’m pretty open. Reading is reading, y’all!
Take a breath to steady yourself now. People have apparently tried to have Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, the perennial classic for all tween girls, BANNED.
Being a girl between the ages of 11 and 14 is pretty much the worst thing ever. You’re awkward and ugly and developing… or not developing. It’s horrendous. This is around the age where girls get mean (they’re awful to each other. And I’m not even speaking as someone chronically bullied or anything. We were all really neurotic and hormonal and impulsive. I again take this opportunity to thank God that I came of age before Facebook…) I’m literally shuddering right now remembering middle school. Incidentally, this is how I know my BFF is indeed FOREVER. Anybody who can love you when you’re at your worst and weirdest is someone worth keeping in your life. Miss your face, HJM.
My visceral reaction to all things middle school makes me unreasonably angry that anyone would ban this book. If you didn’t know already, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is primarily about a girl waiting to start her period. I know, eww, right? But this is SUCH a source of concern for young girls! You start your period too early you worry there’s something wrong with you. You start too late, you worry there’s something wrong with you. You swear off white pants for all eternity. You live in fear that a boy will open your backpack and find your maxi pads… Or lack of maxi pads. It’s AWFUL.
You know what made me feel better at this age? Reading this book! I didn’t read into Margaret’s religious confusion (she was half Jewish half Christian). I didn’t start to question God’s role in my life or refuse to go to CCD. (That’s a lie. I refused to go to CCD all the time- because it was always on Saturday mornings, MOM! But it’s not like reading about a girl with questions undid 12 years of church and Catholic-ness.) All I gleaned from the book was that I wasn’t the only girl going through this! I wasn’t the only one waiting around to grow up, all the while being terrified of the process.
The watchdog groups say to watch out for discussions of bras, kissing, and emerging sexuality. Well, DUH! That’s kind of what PUBERTY is, people. Seriously. There are physiological changes that happen during puberty and you can’t just change that by not buying your daughter a bra, telling her kissing causes pregnancy, or refusing to explain the birds and the bees. If you take that route, you’ll either end up with a daughter who never ever moves out for fear she’ll catch pregnancy from a public toilet or a pregnant teenager.
Since we’ve taken a trip down the awkward memory lane, do any of you bookworms have a YM moment you want to share?