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Yes it’s true, there was once a book series that I banned from my then 12 year old. What’s that you say? The Magic Book Lady banning books from her literate prone household? Happy Banned Books Week everyone.
I’ve never been one who agrees with banning books. I believe in providing age appropriate reading materials for my children but not banning books. That worked until a little book called Hunger Games was discovered by my 12-year old. At this point the Hunger Games had been out a long time and had read it and it completely chilled me to the bone. The idea of putting up 12 children who all must die except 1 to save humanity just hit a little too close to home for some reason. The Hunger Game series is a well written and well conceived book series which still chills me to the bone whether in book or movie form.
I didn’t think another thing about it until we were at the library many months later and wonder son comes up with a stack of books in his arms, the top one being The Hunger Games. “Oh no, not that book,” I thought. And then I heard that very phrase coming out of my mouth. I said something very parental like, “It’s not age-appropriate for you and it deals with very difficult ideas that I don’t think you’re ready for.” End of story I thought.
It had developed a cult following since I had read it plus two more books had come out in the series and well there you have it , a must read book.
One day I walked into the attic room known as the cubby at our house and there was Wonder Son sitting on the bed reading a book hidden by a folder and that’s when I discovered he was secretly reading The Hunger Games.
So what to do? I could punish him, but really. Punish him for reading a book? I don’t think so. The road I took was that of opportunity. Instead of trying to protect him I decided to use The Hunger Games as a dialog tool. I told him he could read the book but that I wanted to have a conversation about it when he was finished. He came out of the cubby, could read freely and we had the greatest conversations over the entire book series. My opinion remains the same, but I also learned why he was attracted to the book and why it didn’t seem as scary to him as it did to me.
We read the other two books in the series at the same time talking all the way through them. It allowed my voice and concerns to be heard. It allowed his points of views and concerns to be heard and at times we even agreed to disagree. I think that skill in itself is a very powerful and capable tool for both of us to have in our tool belts.
Since the Hunger Games, controversial and intense book discussions have continued with my wonder son as he is now a junior in high school. Just this year we had a very deep and meaningful conversation over The Scarlet Letter.
OK, so where do I stand with the Hunger Games? Go read it. Suzanne Collins is a brilliant writer to be able to elicit such strong responses. For us, her book series was a game changer and has opened the door to many incredible conversations.
Though Hunger Games is the only book I’ve ever banned, there have been many in the past. This week is Banned Books Week and this year’s theme is having to do specifically with YA (Young Adult) Titles. Here is a list of the most commonly banned YA books in the US. Have you read any of these ? What do you think?
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon Books/Knopf Doubleday)
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston)
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury Publishing)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (MTV Books/Simon & Schuster)
Drama by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic)
Chinese Handcuffs by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)
The Giver by Lois Lowry (HMH Books for Young Readers)
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage/Knopf Doubleday)
Looking for Alaska by John Green (Dutton Books/Penguin Random House)
For more information about Banned Books Week have a look here and be sure and join the Virtual Read-Out.
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