My Banned Books
Back in the 1970’s I wrote a couple of what used to be known as “middle age” novels that were banned in Texas and in West Virginia. They were neither violent nor obscene. But perhaps they contained dangerous ideas.
My intended audience was not for readers pushing fifty, but for pre-YA kids: roughly fifth through eighth graders.
The music teacher had invited students in my daughter’s class to choose an instrument to learn how to play. Lori chose a drum, but she was told that was “a boy’s instrument.” She was encouraged to choose the flute. That inspired The Manifesto and Me, Meg about a girl like Lori, who starts a consciousness-raising group for kids. Meg’s feisty friend, Samantha, makes posters she puts up at school and other places, announcing a meeting “To Wipe Out Boys” at Meg’s house with a phone number; however, Samantha has transposed two numbers. The result is that an acerbic older woman, Miss Witherspoon, who happens to be the supervisor of schools for the whole county, gets bombarded with calls. Meg has to take the posters down and then call Miss W. to apologize. When she learns more about the group, her anger fades. She wants to become its adult adviser! Meg is horrified. However, Miss W. had earned a Ph.D., way back when, and she turns out to be a great force for feminism. When she helps the girls try to burn their Taffy Teen dolls, which won’t burn, but do have a yucky chemical smell, she purposely gets in trouble with the police chief and is arrested. (Incidentally, don’t try to burn any Barbie dolls.) Good reviews caused the publisher to invite me to write a sequel, which was also banned.
Before the decade ended, I was asked to return a payment of $50.00 to an educational publisher. My poem about dinosaurs had to be removed from a language arts textbook or the publisher would not be able to sell their series in Texas. “Why?” I asked the permissions person. “In Texas they know God created the world in seven days,” she answered.
10-4-09 2:58PM: Joel said…
yeah, wow, honestly this is kinda sad. It’s like the people who “banned” or “edited” Mark Twain in order to make it “politically correct.” Literature is literature. It should be left unchanged and free to all who chose to read it.
Just my opinion.