Book banning, gay kissing, and bad words

Well, the American Library Association’s list of most frequently Challenged and Banned Books of 2006 has been released. Neither J.K. Rowling nor Judy Blume are on this year’s list, probably because neither of them had a new book out, and people were too busy getting upset about the (adorable) gay penguins in And Tango Makes Three.

Justine Larbalsetier ponders the f-bomb in YA books. It reminded me of how Sarah Ellis’s The Baby Project has been challenged because it has a “bad word” in it. (Granted, I have had six and seven year olds inform me in gleefully scandalized tones that “shut up” and “stupid” are bad words.) The Baby Project has been the subject of controversy because the main character’s younger brother stood up at the dinner table and shouted out the worst word he knew. (I can’t remember exactly which “bad word” it was, so you can just fill in the expletive of your choice.) The family was suffering from a fairly substantial trauma. He wanted to get everyone’s attention. I cannot think of a less gratuitous use.

Brent Hartinger posts on Same-Sex Kiss Blacked Out of Yearbook at a New Jersey high school. The school board has since apologized, and students will be able to get an uncensored version of the yearbook, but only if they go to the trouble of requesting one. Although it would have been nice if kissing wasn’t worth censoring in the first place, no matter what the genders of those participating.

Meanwhile, a Chicago suburb’s public library received a $3,000 grant enabling it to develop the country’s first transgender resource collection.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is on a summer reading list in Long Island, has been challenged, and now everyone wants to read it. “As soon as it was handed out … everybody was reading it,” Nicole, 14, said. “People could be seen in class reading it, and in gym class, too. A lot of people have finished it already because it was really good.”

After all of this, Maureen Johnson’s The Bermudez Triangle has a sorta-kinda-maybe victory, in that the book will remain in the libary but require parental consent to read it. What are the odds that will give it the same illict allure as The Perks of Being a Wallflower?


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