Banning the Dictionary?
I read a story a few weeks back about a school district in California pulling all copies of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary from its libraries because a parent complained the dictionary was being used to look up "age inappropriate" words by students. When I read this story I literally laughed out loud.
Banning the dictionary? Really?
Let me start by saying, I'm all for keeping things age appropriate. When our kids were younger, we were some of those weird parents who didn't let their kids watch PG movies until the age of 9 and PG-13 movies until they actually were thirteen (and even then some got a thumbs-down vote from us). We currently have filtering software on our computer to block out the creepy porn stuff. And I'm all for parents monitoring book selections for their children. When my daughter's voracious reading appetite moved into chapter books, I reviewed her choices. (Let me tell you this was no easy task with a girl who reads about five times faster than I do. I'm NOT exaggerating!) And yes, there are certain books and authors you'd never catch me reading in a million years. But we live in America!
Being aware of what our children are reading and keeping things age appropriate, sure thing. But to go so far as to ban a book? And the dictionary? Uh-uh.
This story piqued my interest so much, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at other books which have been banned in the U.S.A. I knew about some of them, but several books on the list surprised me! Here's just a sampling…
1984 by George Orwell
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
From Here to Eternity by James Jones
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Ulysses by James Joyce
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
So, I guess now we're potentially adding Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary to the list. As a side note, I just shared this story with my 18-year-old daughter. She blinked once, then said, "you know, there's the Internet for looking that stuff up as well."
"The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame."
~ Oscar Wilde ~
Image by: Ian Wilson