Banned Books Week! – I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier

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*Above artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

To celebrate Banned Books Week, I spent some time in the library looking for books on the subject.  I found 2 promising ones, 100 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature and Banned Books: 2007 Resource Guide (unfortunately, that was the most recent year available).  As I discover more of the books that have been banned from these and other resources, I will post about them.  I will also be creating a page dedicated to banned books, with resources and links for learning more and finding the banned books that will soothe the rebel in all of us!

Since much of the media discusses the most banned books or the most well known books that have been banned, I’ve decided to concentrate on books that have been banned within the last 30 years, and were unknown to me.  I won’t be discussing books banned for sexual content or language, as most of the banning for those reasons involves schools and what children should be reading.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m against censorship and the banning of books for any reason; however, I think it’s important for parents to be involved in their children’s education, and I’m not going to judge or criticize their parenting.

Cheese

That being said, the first book I’ll be discussing, I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier, involves being banned from schools over some language in the book.  However, it was also banned for another reason: it was considered to be subversive and anti-government.  After a couple complaints, the Superintendent of schools, Leonard Hall, who felt it was wrong to question the government, banned the book, created an extreme review policy for choosing books, and then went on to ban 64 others from the schools in Bay County, Florida.  The banning led to a lawsuit (Farrell v. Hall) in 1987, which was eventually settled out of court, but only because Hall chose not to run for re-election.

What do you think, Reader?  Which is more un-American: the book for presenting the idea of questioning government, or wanting to keep that idea from young adults?