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November: Revisiting Banned Book Classics

Raise your hand if you are tired of all this book cancellation culture and banning. I know, this is a touchy subject…but from my perspective, if we cannot expose our children to our history—to the injustices of the past—how can we expect them to make the world a better place by learning from the mistakes instead of repeating them?

Therefore, I am dedicating November to Banned Books.

Understanding not all schools have banned them, I have selected a few that I remember reading and loving, and few that surprisingly, never graced my eyes before (though I always intended to right that wrong!) In no way is this theme intending to excuse historic blind spots and wrongdoings; it is about creating an awareness and appreciation of how far we have come—and how far we have yet to go—as a society. Let’s talk instead of shy away from the hard stuff.

What “banned books” were favorites of yours and what did you learn from them? Let’s use them as an opportunity to teach and not shame. Let literature live on if for no other reason than wisdom…

1. What book were you completely surprised to hear made it to a banned list?

For me, Charlotte’s Web. I was shocked to learn that this was banned on the basis of talking animals being blasphemous and a dying spider being traumatizing. Point one: how many cartoons, from Disney to WB to Hannah Barbara have talking animals, and we all watched them—and still watch them—without being condemned to hell. Point two: death is a natural part of life, and the book deals with it as a beautiful, natural cycle of life. Why don’t we ban the Lion King while we are at it? And Bambi? Actually, every child movie with a dead parent…

2. Are there any books that you agree should be banned?

I can’t think of any in particular that my children have read that I would have taken an issue to myself. In general, I think if there are books with heavily inappropriate language and sexual or violent scenes that would not be permitted to be viewed under the current movie rating system, then they perhaps would be held for later ages and/or college curriculum. As long as they are age-appropriate, I am okay with any books being read. They wouldn’t be “banned,” per se; simply, delayed until mature content was suitable.

3. What kinds of books do not belong in schools in general?

I think if there are books that teeter too much in favor of a specific religion, political viewpoint, they should not be allowed. Passages from them and other perspectives within the religious/political realm to show comparison and differentiation between different belief systems, sure. But not books or text that full-on advocates one belief system over another. Books are meant to enlighten, entertain, teach, and create awareness; not further divide. I guess that’s where the “banning” stems from, and I can respect that position if someone feels strongly about a certain book’s message. Instead of banning, I’d offer to send out permission slips for individual parent approval or class consensus.

Time for a giveaway to lighten the conversation up! Although my travel memoirs certainly don’t find themselves in the banned books area, they serve as a light-hearted alternative to the heavy theme. Therefore, this month, I am giving away my second book, Butterfly Travels 2, as I prepare to finish my next in the series about my adventures through Europe.

If you’d like to check out my Butterfly Travels book, you can find it here or on any major distribution channel.

Picking up where the original Butterfly Travels leaves off, the Watson family begins a bold move from their home in New York to a new one across the country in California. Join Jenny and her children as they embark on the adventure of the lifetime—a journey filled with new discoveries and detours, chaos and clarity, and ultimately, love and acceptance.

"Having done a cross country move with a young family myself, I was thrilled to find this book! What I loved especially was the inclusion of perspectives from her children's points of view. It takes so much courage to change one's life, we need more stories like this to help navigate life changes. The author's writing style makes it so easy to relate to her!" - 5-Star Amazon Review

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