Captain Underpants Tops List of ‘Challenged Books’ for 2012
Mark Twain is often on the list. So are Toni Morrison and Harper Lee. And no, we’re not talking literary awards — we’re talking about the American Library Association’s annual list of ‘challenged’ books. That means books that parents, teachers or members of the public think are somehow offensive, based on things like bad language and sexual content. It’s no surprise to see E.L. James’s Fifty Shades… on the list at number four (it’s got sex in it apparently), but the surprise for me was the top of the list: the Captain Underpants books by Dav Pilkey for “offensive language, unsuited for age group”.
There’s been plenty debate over the Captain Underpants books, which are about “a superhero devised by two young students about their grouchy school principal, Mr Krupp.” A firm divide exists between those who are pleased the books get boys to read (an achievement in itself, just ask any educator) and those who think they’re just so much toilet humor and encourage disrespect for authority.
"It’s pretty exciting to be on a list that frequently features Mark Twain, Harper Lee, and Maya Angelou… But I worry that some parents might see this list and discourage their kids from reading Captain Underpants, even though they have not had a chance to read the books themselves…" Pilkey said his characters are based in part on teachers and head teachers he had – some of whom were villains who got away with it because they were authority figures. "None of the children in my school, including me, thought to question them," he said. "So, I do feel there is real value in showing kids that not all authority figures are good or kind or honorable."
Second and third on the list were “Sherman Alexie's prize-winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (offensive language, racism, sexually explicit), and Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why (drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide). Also on the list, at No 10, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison's Beloved (sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence).”
Hey, I believe everyone’s entitled to their opinions, but there are times I think I must live on another planet in terms of the way I feel about so-called “offensive” books. What annoys me about this list is that it means these books are often removed from libraries — if they’re ever purchased in the first place — making sure that they’re not accessible to anyone who wants to read them. Okay, I’m not saying everyone has a right to read Fifty Shades…, but To Kill a Mockingbird? Beloved? Really? What do you think?
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