11 Apr 2019, 7:13am

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The Walworthians: Library Banned Books

The Walworthians


A collection of telephone interviews published in the Wayne County STAR Newspaper and Wayne County MAIL Newspaper, 1994-209

by Kate Chamberlin


Banned Books

October 23, 1996

My curiosity was piqued by the display of banned and challenged books in the Walworth-Seely Library. Several were even on tape cassettes, so, I checked them out.

The first one I read was a children’s novel titled Julie Of the Wolves by Jean George.

It told of the tragic death of a young girl’s mother, the separation from her father due to modern laws about attending school, the arranged marriage, her running away, her befriending the wolf pack, the sport killing of the leader from hunters in an airplane and the reunion with her father.

As the tape ended, I tried to think of why the book would have been banned: The pre-arranged marriage? Inaccurate descriptions of Eskimo customs? Slaughter from the airplane? A girl living with wolves?

I finally called my friendly librarian and asked if she knew why Julie of the Wolves had been banned.

There was a weak description of the retarded, 14-year old husband attempting to mate with his 13-year old wife.

The list the librarian sent me put it this way: “George, Jean Craighead. Julie of the Wolves Harper. Challenged in the classrooms and school libraries in Palmdale, Calif-. (I 995) because the book de-scribes an attempted rape. Source: Mar. 1996, p. 45.”

One of the other tapes I listened to was Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. I didn’t have much trouble understanding why it would be banned for use in a high school. The students don’t or shouldn’t have the experiences to fully appreciate the ribald humor and lusty escapades of the pilgrims as they share their tales enroute to Canterbury.

Canterbury Tales are just not age appropriate for high schoolers.

“Chaucer, Geoffrey. Canterbury Tales. Bantam; Bobbs-Merrill; Doubleday; Penguin; Raintree Pubs.; NAL; Univ. of Okla. Pr. Removed from a senior college prepara­tory literature course at the Eureka, 111. High School (I 995) because some parents thought the sexual content of some of the tales was not appropriate for the students. Source: Nov. 1995, P. 185; Jan. 1996, P. 14.”

I was surprised to find James and The Giant Peach on the list of banned and challenged books.

Wayne Central had that title on its required reading summer list. Our daughter had been reading it before she ran away from home and subsequently away from boarding school.

“James and the Giant Peach. ABC-Clio; Knopf. Challenged at the SEafford County, Va. Schools (1995) because the tale contains crude language and encourages children to disobey their parents and other adults. The book was removed from the classrooms and placed in the library, where access is restricted. Source: Sept. 1995, P. 160.”

Maybe banning books isn’t such a bad idea after all.

2019 Up-Date: Have you ever checked the list of banned books?  I suspect the criteria has changed in the last 20 years.


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