We are used to seeing censorship attempts for heavy, controversial topics: drugs, LGBTQ+ themes, sexual content, religion, death, ect. But the Junie B. Jones series is aimed at young readers. She’s a kindergartener, worried about riding the bus on her first day of school and getting up to hilarious, albeit a bit questionable, antics. To what, exactly, are people objecting in these books?
Recently, I was able to speak to Ms. Larson regarding this situation. Her commitment to intellectual freedom and dedication to fostering an antiracist learning environment for her students is evident in her discussion of the challenge to Stamped. Not every educator is in the position to fight back against a challenge: it can be a risk to their professional reputation or even their job security. But if they’re able to do so, it always makes a difference, even if censorship prevails in that particular incident. As Ms. Larson states below: “Fight for the kids. They will know. They always know.”
In early December 2020, news outlets reported on a statement made by the Roald Dahl Story Company (RDSC). At some point, Roald Dahl’s family quietly issued an apology on the official Roald Dahl website, denouncing the famous children’s author’s anti-Semitic views and statements. They made it clear they do not condone Dahl’s views, and they lament the “lasting and understanding hurt” these comments may have caused the Jewish community. The official statement also implies that his prejudicial comments were not in keeping with the beloved man they knew, even though Dahl’s comments were made very publicly and with no remorse, even towards the end of his life.
David Sedaris was born on this day in 1956. He is an award winning author and comedian, and he is a regular, longtime contributor to The New Yorker and the National Public Radio (NPR) show This American Life. His essays are known for their satirical and self-deprecating humor, and read like diary entries (which many of them are), a window into Sedaris’ clever mind.
Despite being frequently challenged, Cormier continued to write these mature themes; he felt they were an important window for young adults to view the world beyond them.
There will always be silly reasons for attempting to ban a book, but I would have thought that there wasn’t anything to challenge about holiday books. I mean, Santa, reindeer, twinkly lights, Hallmark movies, present exchanges, good will towards men? What is there to object? However, as it turns out, I was wrong; there are attempts to challenge books about the most wonderful time of the year.
Imagine you’re an author, in the middle of writing an international bestselling YA book series about vampires, when you find out that that same book series has been banned from one school district. Banned in its entirety. But wait. You’re not finished with the series yet. Is this school district really banning books…before they are even published?
Despite the frustrations from that book challenge, Wittlinger hasn’t shied away from writing about these tough, but important, topics that relate to teenagers. Her novels written since Sandpiper was challenged tackle everything from LGBTQIA issues, suicide, religion and spirituality, and the universal search for love and belonging.
However, from a librarian’s perspective, this decision seriously infringes on our intellectual freedom, especially the freedoms of those who rely upon the library for their access to information.
Why is this case still worth our attention? It’s been 50 years. Private freedoms are viewed as a necessary pillar of our society. As Americans, we have the right to privately read and view whatever information or material we wish. It is unconstitutional for the government to come in and try to police the content of the media we’re consuming. Right?