Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Banned English Education

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Ulysses, by James Joyce
1984, by George Orwell
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
Native Son, by Richard Wright
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey
For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf
Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
Howards End, by E.M. Forster
A Separate Peace, by John Knowles

I went to public school from K-12 and then to a public university. I signed up for every English class they'd let me take. One semester in high school, administrators let me take four at a time. Can you imagine the amount of information that exposed me to? At some point in my public education, I studied all of the books listed above and then some. Classics and contemporary works by brilliant authors from every time period, race, social class and gender.

All of these books have been banned or challenged somewhere in America. Some kid like me is beyond thirsty for knowledge, for more books, for more English classes. She isn't being offered the opportunities I was. It breaks my heart. I know I'm a successful editor today because I was allowed to read whatever I wanted. What would have been left of my English education if all of these books were withheld from me?

Do parents have the right to control which books their kids read? Sure do. But I'm glad my parents didn't. And parents sure as hell don't have the right to control what books other people's children read by banning books.

Upset about it? Add one of these books to your "to-read" list. Check out the ALA's Banned Book Week site. Share a banned book with a young adult in your life. And, above all, keep talking about it.

Anna Reads young adult book blog


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