A Banned Books Week teaser

I’ve been working something up in honor of Banned Books Week, which starts at the end of next week. But this news item was worth passing along as a not-so-savory appetizer.

From Worth The Trip (a fantastic kids & teens book blog that’s been gracing my Queer Parenting Resources links list for a coupla weeks), we hear of a woman in Lewiston, ME who took it upon herself to decide what patrons at two area libraries ought not to read. Here’s the story.

Kathleen, at Worth The Trip, tells us that the woman

wrote to the directors of both libraries, telling them she was not going to return It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris, and she enclosed a check for $20.95 to cover the cost of each book. She complained in her letter that the book had “amoral and abnormal” contents.

We know what that means.

The book treats homosexuality as a normal part of human sexuality. In fact, both of Harris’s children’s books about sex are exemplary in this regard. That’s not always the case.


The only thing about this story that’s heartening is that it was newsworthy. And that the library director returned the check, and included a formal complaint form with which the woman could register her outrage.

It’s Perfectly Normal topped the American Library Association’s list of the most challenged books of 2005. Guess which book tops the ALA’s most challenged books list for 2006? I’ll give you a three word hint: gay penguin dads. You don’t have to be a literary critic to spot the common theme. And you don’t even need to be an elementary school graduate to know whose children are being persecuted in Lewiston, ME, in Evesham, NJ, and in every other community attacking curricula and books that acknowledge the existence of gay people and families headed by them.

All’s I can say is, I won’t let my kids be taught their families are “amoral”; not if I can help it. And I can’t imagine which LGBT parents wouldn’t say this too. As battles like these drag on (and we know they will), we will be calling on our hetero friends and allies in greater and greater numbers. I hope they see it as a matter of enlightened self-interest. I have to think they believe, as I do, that love is more powerful than hate.

[For more on the book, here some pieces on it by Planned Parenthood, and Mental Help Net. Wanna strike back by buying the book? Here’s the Powells link to it.]

5 Responses to A Banned Books Week teaser

  1. Mrs.Micah September 19, 2007 at #

    “Amoral.” But that would mean that they were neither “moral” nor “immoral.” Her words were technically approving of them….but she wouldn’t have liked it if she’d known.

    That’s a good book, my library has it.

    Didn’t she realize that they’d buy the book again? Argh.

  2. AllieGreenhouse September 20, 2007 at #

    We just don’t seem to have so many outraged book burners over here as you do over there! We have the Harris ‘Let’s talk about sex’ book for our kids and it is really very good.

  3. HarlynA September 20, 2007 at #

    From one penguin mom to another, Polly thanks for rallying us all with your wit, awesome writing, and enduring hope. Wanted to let you know that your anthology, Confessions of the Other Mother, was voted by About.com as one of the top 10 lesbian nonfiction books of 2006. Your editor, Harlyn Aizley, is psyched and proud to have you as one of her contributors. Harlyn has lesbiandad linked to her new blog http://www.parents.com/areyoumymothers. Harlyn feels weird writing about herself in the third person. Cheers! H-

  4. LesbianDad September 20, 2007 at #

    I’m glad your library has it, Mrs. M. So long as your town is free of literary vigilantees, the flow of knowledge will continue unimpeded.

    Yes, alas, AllieG., I’m afraid the outraged book burning element came to these shores coupla hundred years ago (from somewhere, I forget where!). I am continually amazed at the enduring presence of Puritanism in our culture, even after the last funny hat was doffed. Though at least I’m cheered to note that the US is way up at the 53rd least censorious nation (out of 168), according to the 2006 Reporters Without Borders Worldwide Press Freedom Index, alongside Botswana, Croatia and Tonga. Hey, we’re in the upper third! That’s something. (No. 1: a tie between Finland, Iceland, Ireland, and the Netherlands! Your fair country: No. 27, along with Lithuania!) Along the way, I couldn’t help but gape a while at the Wikipedia entry on book burning. Wow, us humans. What a lot.

    And Harlie! Ahoy! A hearty welcome onboard the S.S. Blogosphere! I will herald your Parents.com blog in a proper, post-wide fashion as soon as I get this nasty book-banning taste out of my mouth. Meanwhile: Wow! About the About.com acccolades! You sure know how to pick (and edit) ’em, Harlie!

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