Banning Books Will Never Work

A parent in Virginia has concerns about schools assigning The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird. As a result, both books are now temporarily banned from use in the classroom until some kind of hearing can take place. The rationale behind her concerns is that the N-word is used quite a bit in both, which leaves students focusing on its repeated use rather than on the book. I couldn’t disagree more.

I, like just about all of you, have read both books. And though I absolutely have a problem with the language and offer no justification during any time period for its use, I can’t help but scratch my head. Why? I actually found a quote from the parent in which she backs her argument about how divided the country is. To me, it sounds like her concerns about the language are just a front for her political motivation.

I’m curious as to whether she thinks books written in the 19th and 20th centuries and taught to teens in school actually contribute to that division she speaks of. I’m curious as to whether she believes highly educated teachers are incapable of teaching books such as these two because of the language within each of them. I’m curious as to whether she would rather kids be taught books written in the 21st century with absolutely no historical element. And I’m curious as to whether she utilized her ability to opt out of the assignment of particular books in school. Because I know schools and teachers always make it 100% clear BEFORE an assigned book is started that parents can choose to have their son or daughter read something else if they have a problem with a title.

But doing this and causing these two books to be banned from classroom use does nothing positive for anyone. I’m sitting here thinking about what my reaction to some of the events in To Kill a Mockingbird would have been had I read the book in class.

A question I’d have wanted to discuss is what I thought would have happened at the jail had Scout and Jem not showed up alongside Atticus. Because we all know what that mob group intended to do. And we all know why they intended to do it. That discussion taking place amongst friends and a highly educated teacher who has likely read and studied the book several times is where I want it to take place. Because parents don’t always know what to say about certain things.

As you can see, I have strong feelings about any book being banned for any reason. But this parent’s argument simply doesn’t hold up under the weight of its own words.

Top Five Wednesday: Dads

FINALLY. Finally a new video y’all might actually be interested in. Y’all know about Top Five Wednesday, and this topic is pretty straightforward. Now just watch and see if my favorite literary Papa Bears are similar to yours.

PS: There’s a twist!

Who are YOUR favorites?!

Harper Lee has Died

An American icon died today. And even though today is video day and I have a new video for y’all, I felt that I should write one more post about Harper Lee.

I’ve written extensively over the last year about the Pulitzer Prize winning author. Mostly because she popped up in the news for the first time in years and I finally got around to reading To Kill a Mockingbird. But you know what my first thought was when I learned of her death? Some of you will know it. It was that she wouldn’t be taken advantage of anymore.

I’m not upset or critical of her for only writing one book during her lifetime (I still don’t consider Go Set a Watchman anything more than a draft that was never meant to see the light of day). I don’t fault her for not relishing in the media attention she received as a result of her book. And I don’t blame her for her second book coming out.

Harper Lee did in one book what so many people fail to do in a lifetime. She changed lives. Imagine what it would have been like reading her book for the first time in 1960. Depending on your personal ideology and mindset the book would have been eye-opening or repulsive. But when we read it now it gives a glimpse into the ugly history of the southern United States. We all know that not everyone living during the period was racist or experienced racism in their day-to-day lives, which is why her book is so important. It shows the bad in people during the period, but it also shows how good people really were. There were millions of Atticus Finch’s all over the country, but not everyone was fortunate enough to know one.

I won’t thank Harper Lee for writing a masterpiece. Instead I’ll thank her for doing her part to ensure that a terrible time period in the history of this country is never forgotten. So thank you, Ms. Lee. May you rest in peace.

I’ll leave you with my To Kill a Mockingbird video from last year.

Cool Dads in Literature

I don’t know what the rest of the world is doing today, but here in the US it’s Father’s Day. Or is it Fathers Day? Anyway, I figured I’d write a relevant post about it. So we’re talking dads in books. Let’s get to it.

Atticus Finch

If you don’t know, I’m reading To Kill a Mockingbird for my next video. I’ll be finished with it today once I’m home from work. Which means I’m not going to tell you anything about what I think of Atticus or the book here, except that I think he belongs on this list.

Alex Cross

He’s a detective in DC. Then moves on to the FBI. Then I think he goes back to detective work. I think. I’m only about halfway through the series and James Patterson releases them too fast for me to keep up with. But I’ve never read a single page of one of the Cross novels thinking that his family wasn’t his top priority. Reading about him and his family is just as entertaining as reading about the criminals he goes after.

Spenser

He’s not actually a father. But during the course of one of his books he takes a kid under his wing, and never forgets about him. And they develop this really interesting understanding between each other that I don’t think I’ve seen in other stories. Paul (the kid he takes under his wing) eventually knows when Spenser has something on his mind without needing to ask. He knows when to press him for information and when to back off. He knows as much about Spenser as Spenser is willing to let anyone know. Which is really cool because Spenser doesn’t go around giving out information about himself unnecessarily.

I think that’s it. I just discovered that most of the characters I read aren’t fathers. I guess having kids isn’t interesting enough to be in books. Who are some cool dads you’ve read about in literature?

And happy Father’s Day to all you papas out there.