Banned Books Week: The “Raised in a Bubble” Edition

September 29, 2016 11 Comments

Today’s edition of our Banned Books Week celebration is dedicated to all the parents/school boards/crotchety community members out there who want to keep their special snowflakes as pure as the driven snow – never to encounter a bodily function, curse word, or unpleasant situation in print, whether fictional or historical. To you, I dedicate this “Raised in a Bubble” edition – tell little Susie and Timmy to cover their eyes! (Not that they’re even allowed on the interwebs, but still.)

 

Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhugh

 

Harriet the Spy, Banned Books Week, Louise Fitzhugh, banned books, Blonde Seeking Ambition, First Amendment

I hope you’re sitting down for this, because it’s a doozy. People got butthurt over this book (which I loved as a child) because Harriet was a… spy. Despite winning multiple awards and being named to dozens of “best book” lists (in fact, in 2012, the School Library Journal named it the #17 children’s novel of all time), Harriet’s been a target since her publication in 1964. In the 1980s in Ohio, people tried to get this book removed from school libraries, claiming Harriet “teaches children to lie, spy, back-talk and curse.”

You know, because children never do that on their own.

 

A Light In The Attic – Shel Silverstein

 

A Light in the Attic, Shel Silverstein, Banned Books Week, banned books, Blonde Seeking Ambition

This book was omnipresent growing up: in my school library, friends’ houses, bookstores. That’s why I found myself scratching my head when I discovered it had attracted the ire of censors since its publication in 1981.  This is because some people are entirely too literal for their own good.

For instance, a mother in Texas got the book successfully banned after complaining that the below poem “exposes children to the horrors of suicide” (!!!):

And Abigail began to cry and said,
“If I don’t get that pony I’ll die.”
And her parents said, “You won’t die.
No child ever died yet from not getting a pony.”
And Abigail felt so bad
That when she got home she went to bed,
And she couldn’t eat,
And she couldn’t sleep,
And her heart was broken,
And she DID die—
All because of a pony
That her parents wouldn’t buy.

Silverstein’s book was also banned at another school because one of the poems purportedly “encourages children to break dishes so they won’t have to dry them”.

I… I’m speechless.

 

Where’s Waldo? – Martin Handford

 

Where's Waldo, Banned Books Week, banned books, Blonde Seeking Ambition,

I wish I were making this up. I’m not. Where’s Waldo? made #87 on the “100 Most Frequently Challenged Books” of the 1990s because there’s a topless sunbather ON HER STOMACH. I kind of feel like if a kid managed to spotted this, they EARNED that naked cartoon sideboob, damn it. Those Waldo books always gave me a freaking headache.

 

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary

 

Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Banned Books Week, banned books, Blonde Seeking Ambition

I really, really wish I were making this up. Alas, I am not. The freaking DICTIONARY was pulled from classrooms in Menifee, California (population approx. 85,000) after a parent discovered his child looked up “oral sex” in the dictionary. THE DICTIONARY. Not the internet… which is a FAR worse place for little Timmy to be getting his definition of oral sex. THE DICTIONARY.

As Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition puts it:

“At the end of the day, if my kid is digging through the Merriam-Webster dictionary to find words he and his friends are going to giggle over but along the way find other words they will use, I think that is a day well spent in school.”

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

 

Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank, Banned Books Week, banned books, censorship, First Amendment, Blonde Seeking Ambition

Buckle up, kids… you know it takes a real asshole to complain about this one.

In 2013, a Michigan mother of a 7th grader threw a fit over Anne’s description of her ladybits, saying it was “pornographic” and that it was the parents’ job to give kids this information. Decide for yourself:

“There are little folds of skin all over the place, you can hardly find it… the little hole underneath is so terribly small that I simply can’t imagine how a man can get in there, let alone how a whole baby can get out!”

I, personally, think Anne’s description is hilarious – obviously unintended – but she’s spot on! She’s going through puberty, for Pete’s sake. WHILE LOCKED IN AN ATTIC. And not for nothing, but if your 7th grader hasn’t figured out where babies come from, there are larger issues at play here.

Not to be outdone in the asshole department, an Alabama school board tried to ban the book because they thought it was a “real downer”.

You know what else was a real downer? The fucking Holocaust. The people on that school board should be deeply, truly ashamed of themselves… but that would require self-awareness.

 

On that note, I’ll leave you until tomorrow’s “I Can’t Even” Edition! I hope you’re enjoying reading these bits of banned books, because I am thoroughly enjoying sharing them with you!

11 Comments

  1. Reply

    Tamara

    September 29, 2016

    Thanks, I learned several interesting things from this list and was reminded of quite minutes in the car with the kids searching for Waldo.

    • Reply

      Caitlin

      September 30, 2016

      Thank you for reading, Tamara! The Waldo books were always fun to check out… the scenes were always so detailed. Who knew they were also scandalous?! Ha!!!

  2. Reply

    Cailyn

    September 29, 2016

    Yes Timmy, look up Oral Sex on the Internet instead….I think Timmy’s Dad is just mad because Timmy overheard an argument the night before. #ahem

    Fun fact: My phone autocorrected “Sex” to “SexyBack”…. with that capitalization.

    • Reply

      Caitlin

      September 30, 2016

      And after Timmy got called down to the principal’s office after the Dictionary Incident, Timmy’s Dad got REALLY mad.

      I LOVE that your phone is automatically bringing sexy back for you. But did it every really leave? #deepthoughts

  3. Reply

    Jenna

    September 30, 2016

    This is nuts. I always figured the banned book list was the BEST place to find books worth reading.

  4. Reply

    julie porter

    September 30, 2016

    I had to come back for today’s edition! I’m giggling at both Harriet the Spy and Waldo making any list. Bravo to anyone who could pick out sideboob in that mess! I’m with you, Waldo gives me a headache. And trying to ban Harriet, another fave of mine. She’s a spy You got it right with your title today. Parents, don’t let your kids out of their bubbles!

    • Reply

      Caitlin

      September 30, 2016

      I’m so happy you came back, Julie! 😀 It really boggles the mind to think that there are people out there who clutch their pearls SO HARD at the most innocuous childhood things. You just KNOW these are the sorts of people Harriet would be spying on 😉

  5. Reply

    Jen Smith

    September 30, 2016

    Usually I can barely get through educational posts but this one was educational and hilarious. You’re great! “You know what else was a real downer? The fucking Holocaust!” Brilliant. I had no clue about any of these. People are weird.

  6. Reply

    Lorna

    June 10, 2017

    I know this is an old post. But Harriet was/is like my spirit animal. Hi.

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