Jun 15, 2012

Friday Five: More Challenged/Controversial Picture Books

Picture Books should just come with a light up display that reads: "JUDGE ME!!" They never seem to catch a break.  There's always something that a parent or "concerned" (read: crazy) adult thinks children should never see.  It's a reasonable concern, but there are millions of other books available...just pick one of those.  The more you challenge a book, the more popular it will become.  So for that, I guess I should thank the crazies. 

Five More Controversial Picture Books:

1) In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak.
Okay, so the little boy is naked.  Kids shouldn't have to see that, right?  Well, half of the kids reading it have the parts themselves.  They can see it anytime they want.  And if you've seen Jersey Girl, you know that kids will eventually start showing their stuff to each other when they please.

But really, this book can be interpreted more about how there are no barriers between a person and his dream and how he becomes part of his dream, along with a small dash of Holocaust references.  So lighten up about his nudity, or do what Stephen Colbert did and just cut out all the penises. 

2) Where's Waldo
I was surprised when I saw that this was challenged material and kind of secretly wished it held some message hidden along with with our striped shirt friend about how gay people are awesome or something like that so I could love Waldo even more.  Alas, it's only because there's a teeny tiny drawing of a topless woman on a beach.  She was drawn with a bikini top on in the 10th anniversary edition.  What a bummer.  But still, the fact that someone found and complained about that drawing rather than laugh about it, is a little sad. 

3) The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss
Essentially, people have a problem with being told that they are causing problems. Clearly they just need to make a profit off of this environmental "trend" like in 30 Rock:

4) Nappy Hair, by Carolivia Herron
What was supposed to be a funny picture book for children ended up costing a woman her teaching job.  A white teacher read this story aloud to her class of black and Hispanic students.  They loved the book.  LOVED it.  The parents, however, thought it was offensive and that the teacher was being racist by reading it to the class, even though the author herself says that that was the intended audience for her book.  The teacher ended up receiving many threats from the parents and had to transfer schools because she feared for her safety.  It's sad that these kids received this type of response to a book that they loved.  What's even more sad was that the reaction was mainly from parents of other children in the school, not of the teacher's actual students.  The book's purpose was to celebrate cultural differences, but like Will Smith said, parents just don't understand.

5) Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Bill Martin
This story is hilariously sad.  The author of Brown Bear has the same name as the author of Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation.  Obviously "Bill Martin" is such an unusual combination of names that it immediately raises flags.  *Sarcasm hand*  Well, in Texas, that's what they think.  In 2010, the State Board of Education removed Bill Martin's picture book from the Social Studies curriculum where it would have been studied for its cultural contributions.  Texans don't like it when you criticize capitalism and the good ol' American way.  Well, obviously the picture book author WAS NOT the Marxist.  Didn't matter.  Oh, and the people who made the motion to strike it from the curriculum? They never read the Marxism book or did further research to figure out if it was the same author.  Tsk tsk. 

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