To Kill a Mockingbird has been banned – again. It is making people uncomfortable – again.
I leave it to others to argue about why it is important because they can argue it more eloquently.
My part in the fight for literature is to propose a new curriculum. Banned Books 101 (working title). In this course students will read commonly banned books and explore the themes and language that cause them to be banned.
I realize many teachers brave the world and teach these books and I applaud them. Many schools support their teachers and defend them when parents complain about literature. This course is for the school district that doesn’t already push forth and teach banned books.
Yes, banned literature usually contains offensive language and in the case of, To Kill a Mockingbird there is racially charged language but if we stop teaching the horrors of racism we are bound to revert to segregation and Jim Crow Laws (and possibly worse). It is not a far cry to assume that would happen when people of color cannot even get pulled over by the police without being shot.
In the new course I have assumed a class would be able to read five books a year and might even be able to finish a sixth. This assumes the class would spend time reading in class together, analyzing text, and then spending time talking about and learning about the time period it was written in or refers to and other pop culture references and inspiration.
I made an attempt to not have a list full of white men. The list includes seven books (for the speedy readers’ class) with three female authors, one of which is from Iran.
The books I have chosen are all commonly on banned books lists and are included in many high school reading lists. There are tons of other books that could be included on the list and you are welcome to make your own suggestions and changes.
This list is my list. It may change slightly from year to year but at least right now, I am happy with it. Enjoy.
- Looking for Alaska. Written by John Green and published in 2005. It is banned for offensive language, sexually explicit content, and is considered unsuited for the age group.
The book is about a teenager trying to find his place in the world. Shocking.
- Fahrenheit 451. Written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1953. It is banned for obscene language and for anti-Christian sentiment.
The book is about a dystopian world where books are banned. Irony.
- Persepolis. Written by Marjane Satrapi and published in 2000 – 2003. It is banned for many reasons but mostly its offensive language and political viewpoint.
The book is an autobiography about the authors time growing up in Iran during and after the revolution.
- Brave New World. Written by Aldous Huxley and published in 1931. It is banned for anti-religious and anti-family themes and sexual content.
The book is about a future world that is heavily dependent on science and technology to breed a specific society.
- Harry Potter. Written by J.K. Rowling and published in 1997. It is banned for witchcraft and its religious viewpoint. People also allege it is unsuited to the age group and sets a bad example.
The book is about a boy who goes to wizard school.
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Written by Mark Twain and published in 1884/85. It is banned for offensive language, racial stereotypes and the use of the n-word.
The book is about a boy who escapes with a runaway slave and they travel down the Mississippi River.
- To Kill a Mockingbird. Written by Harper Lee and published in 1960. It is banned for offensive language, racism, and is considered unsuited for its intended age group.
A young girl learns of her towns legacy of racism.
All book covers are from Wikipedia.
The cover art is my original work.