Kid keeping a lending library of banned books in his her locker

Javier sez, "A teenager asks Yahoo! Questions whether maintaining a lending library in his school locker is illegal (as opposed of merely in contravention of school regulations). A school friend asked to borrow off him The Catcher in the Rye, one of the books in the banned list, and one thing led to another..."
This happened a lot and my locker got to overflowing with the banned books, so I decided to put the unoccupied locker next to me to a good use. I now have 62 books in that locker, about half of what was on the list. I took care only to bring the books with literary quality. Some of these books are:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
His Dark Materials trilogy
The Canterbury Tales
The Divine Comedy
Paradise Lost
The Godfather
Interview with the Vampire
The Hunger Games
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Animal Farm
The Witches
Shade's Children
The Evolution of Man
the Holy Qu'ran
... and lots more.

Anyway, I now operate a little mini-library that no one has access to but myself. Practically a real library, because I keep an inventory log and give people due dates and everything. I would be in so much trouble if I got caught, but I think it's the right thing to do because before I started, almost no kid at school but myself took an active interest in reading! Now not only are all the kids reading the banned books, but go out of their way to read anything they can get their hands on. So I'm doing a good thing, right? Oh, and since you're probably wondering "Why can't you just go to a local library and check out the books?" most of the kids are too chicken or their parents won't let them but the books. I think that people should have open minds. Most of the books were banned because they contained information that opposed Catholicism. I limit my 'library' to only the sophmores, juniors and seniors just in case so you can't say I'm exposing young people to materiel they're not mature enough for. But is what I'm doing wrong because parents and teachers don't know about it and might not like it, or is it a good thing because I am starting appreciation of the classics and truly good novels (Not just fad novels like Twilight) in my generation?

Give that kid a medal and a full-ride scholarship to the best library school in the country, please!

Is it OK to run an illegal library from my locker at school? (Thanks, Javier!)


  1. H2G2 a banned book?

    Surely not? I read this in the School library in the early 80’s

  2. How could ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ and ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’ be banned? Those books are harmless.

    I think the kid’s brave to do this, but he’s asking for trouble.

    “Twilight is banned also, but I don’t want that polluting my library.” What – Twilight was awesome!

    1. “Twilight is banned also, but I don’t want that polluting my library.” What – Twilight was awesome!

      Twilight could be a manual for the abstinence-only movement.

  3. @Neill: Surely, it’s banned for its treatment of god, what with the “We apologize for the inconvenience”-sign and (like)such(as).

    Also, one has to possess a certain amount and type of oddness and intellectualism to appreciate it, both of which are traits I doubt the censors have.

    This kid deserves some sort of award. Maybe the title of mayor or something.

    I know, “The Sultan of Sedition”!
    go, little kid, go!

  4. I’m torn between utter disgust with the peabrains that would dare to “ban” a single one of these books,

    and joy and gratitude with the clear-eyed bravery of this young person. Give the kid a National Medal of Freedom! Woohoo! You go, dude!

    …and just exactly how is it possible, here and now, to ban a book, anyway?

    (and why are my two human-check passwords “penal” and “serv”?)

  5. I second the medal nomination. This kid is 31 flavors of awesome.

    Also, I concur on the WTF?!-factor of banning half these books.

  6. It’s obvious why they’re banned and I support the school in this:

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower – not getting sex
    His Dark Materials trilogy – OBVIOUSLY about sex
    Sabriel – with a name like that its about lesbian sex
    The Canterbury Tales – I live near Canterbury and I have sex
    Candide – something that women get in the bits they use for sex
    The Divine Comedy – sex. God made it to give us something to laugh about
    Paradise Lost – no sex
    The Godfather – Oedipus
    Mort – sex with dead French people
    Interview with the Vampire – more sex with the dead
    The Hunger Games – how you feel when you’ve had no sex
    The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – sex with aliens
    A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – that’s what he was really there for
    Animal Farm – Oh. No comment.
    The Witches – they always want sex
    Shade’s Children – how else did Shade get children?
    The Evolution of Man – had to have sex to have evolution
    the Holy Qu’ran – don’t mention it, but I’m certain that Muslims have sex

    See. They’re all about sex. I’m not surprised they banned them. Bet they read them first to make sure. I’ve tried for years to get a job like that but not many people resign from them :)))

  7. Remember folks, censorship isn’t just in dictatorships, it also happens in your own back yard.

    And it’s always for “good reasons”.

    On a more practical side, this kid has to setup a donation pot. I’d give him 10$ (and I won’t let some nagging paranoia about the truth of the story stop me)

  8. I don’t know what’s more amazing, what this kid is doing or the fact that he actually managed to get some helpful information out of people on Yahoo Answers.

  9. What kind of reactionaries are running this school? In my Catholic high school we were ASSIGNED many of those books in English classes. The Canterbury tales? The Divine Comedy? Seriously?

  10. Wow! Entrepreneur in the making – go for it I say.

    What sort of morons would put The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy on a banned list? My friends and I shared so many laughs when that series of books came out – good clean healthy laughs!

    Mind you, I can’t think of a better way to get teenagers to read than to tell them they’re not allowed to.

  11. I have a feeling this is a Catholic private school and not a public school. Frankly, I have no problem with a private school banning books on school grounds, or punishing a student for violating the ban. It’s a private school.

    That said, the kid also deserves a medal. Sometimes you do something like this because it is the right thing to do, and then you take your lumps afterwards. If he does get expelled a scholarship should be set up for him that we can all give $5 so he can go to the school of his choice.

    However, this is EXACTLY the reason why private school vouchers are such a stupid idea. If parents want to send their kids to schools that stunt their intellectual growth that’s their fricking business, but don’t make me pay for it.

  12. What a great story! It would make a marvelous Saturday afternoon movie plot, complete with the ignorant school board, the harsh principal, the street kids reading banned classics, secret assistance from a librarian or English teacher… If you wanted a twist the entire thing could be a plot to increase reading, with the principal being secretly good even though all the kids think he’s evil, kind of like Snape.

  13. Awesome! God Bless you, man!

    Where is this kid’s Pay-Pal link? If ever there was a time for a tip-jar.. Hey, don’t forget “1984” better known as Bush’s guide-book. I noticed you had animal farm so I would assume 1984 is in there too!

  14. You have BANNED BOOKS LIST in USA schools? Like, for real ?

    Also, give the kid a medal. And a free copy of Little Brother, s/he’s clearly one of’em kids.

  15. I read HHGTTG when I was in high school. The only thing it turned me into was a geek.

    I picked and read Animal Farm for a school assignment, with my teachers’ blessing. That was after I’d read 1984, which was a way more “dangerous” book, with descriptions of sexual acts and violence — although not tittillating in any way.

    All these books were available in the school library.

    I knew a girl who carried around and read a copy of Das Kapital in high school. She didn’t become a communist.

    For my last year of high school, while I was still a minor, two separate teachers, for two completely different courses, had us read a Harlequin Romance novel. So I ended up reading two.

    There’s more potential brain damage in one of those novels than in all of the others in the list of banned books the kid has in his locker put together.

  16. Nothing makes me want to be Catholic more than knowing that Catholics aren’t allowed to even know what the other options are.

  17. “Katniss” is definitely a pseudonym. It is the first name of the female main character in “The Hunger Games” (one of the banned books in the locker library).

    As a library school student, this story makes me happy.

  18. Once the Internet will be under total control, likely that of big corporations, we will still have books to fall back on.

  19. What kind of narrow-minded totalitarian tinpot town is that poor kid forced to live in?

    A lot of those titles would not be unfamiliar to an undergraduate reading for a degree in English, or even an ‘A’-level or a GCSE in English.

    Whatever happened to the so-called “War of Terror”? Did they call it off, sign a truce, just give in or lose or something? Maybe it’s time someone declared a war on the terror of idiocy or small-mindedness.

  20. I selected Catch-22 for an assignment in my Catholic Jr. High and was told to select another book. I took the F instead. I really have to credit St. Catherine’s of Sienna for instilling me with a lifelong loathing of authority, it has served me well. F-U penguins!

  21. Funny, look at the question she asked just before that one;_ylt=At9PBs_zz6C2KW4iMS3FCz3ty6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20090303155822AAUdqXd

    “I find that usually the books teens and other age groups are discouraged from reading are the best. My school doesn’t have any banned books, but my friend goes to a catholic private school and the list is list ten pages long. It doesn’t even have to be a school list. Any banned books please thanks.”

  22. Oh this warms my little tiny heart. Kid, you’re amazing; congratulations on your new venture. May it encourage free speech, open minds and spread the love of reading. You’ve totally made my day.

  23. That was three months ago, it looks like. There’s no way a “secret” that big can be kept in the hothouse environment of a Catholic high school. Want to bet she’s been expelled by now?

    On one level, I really approve of what she did. On another, when I look at the risk of expulsion and what that’s going to do to her chance of getting into a good college (if she has been expelled), was it worth it? Would you throw away several grand a year of income for the rest of your life to spare other kids the effort or embarrassment of checking out books from the regular library on their own?

  24. I agreee with PATYEON; not sure this is for real… look at the description for the author of the question:

    “Hey. My name is Katniss, and I am a writer. Lately I’ve been working on screenplays–my cousin said if they were any good he’d help me get them made into films–, but I much prefer novels. Nothing published yet, but I’ve had a few companies say that they’re interested in one novel I’m currently writing!”

    He/She has been a member since Oct. 08…

  25. Cory, I don’t think this is the first time you suggested that a kid get a scholarship for their activities in the field of Awesomesness. Instead of suggesting it and having your readers give a resounding “I agree”, why not start the BoingBoing Scholarship Fund and solicit donations so we can actually furnish these kids with a scholarship?

  26. Animal Farm
    The Canterbury Tales
    The Divine Comedy
    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

    Were all assigned reading (in part, or in full) when I was in high school. Well, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was actually “approved reading”, I had to get instructor approval before I used it for a book report. I wonder how many of our other readings made it onto this school’s banned list:

    Hills Like White Elephants (The in-class discussion after we read this story could have blistered paint (and possibly suffocated a school board member))
    The Scarlet Letter
    The Sun Also Rises
    Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
    King Lear
    Julius Caesar (We spent a whole class period during our “Shakespeare Semester” learning how to stab people on stage. Corn syrup-based stage blood is remarkably messy.)

    Finally…A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court??!!?!?!?!!! I read that in FIFTH GRADE. My Lutheran chapel-twice-a-week Bible-study-every-day elementary school thought that this was a great story.

    Woe to the Republic!

  27. What a clever pro-reading strategy by the school.

    By banning these books they’ve made kids actually want to read them.

  28. Aren’t a lot of these banned books already available online? Not to mention in the nearest public library. It’s hard to ban books that are freely available.

  29. Funny, look at the question she asked just before that one;_ylt=At9PBs_zz6C2KW4iMS3FCz3ty6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20090303155822AAUdqXd

    “I find that usually the books teens and other age groups are discouraged from reading are the best. My school doesn’t have any banned books, but my friend goes to a catholic private school and the list is list ten pages long. It doesn’t even have to be a school list. Any banned books please thanks.”

    Indeed. This seems to be, unfortunately, a hoax.

    There was quite a thread about this on Reddit.

  30. @NE2D #26

    Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Oh well, she’s still young. Hopefully she’ll figure it out soon.

  31. Many of these were assigned reading when I was in school. Personally, I think Candide and Catcher in the Rye are both wretched books. But serious kudos to this kid. No one should be banning books, even if the books aren’t good books.

  32. Though the idea of banning books is bizarre enough, banning The Catcher in the Rye is even more bizarre!

  33. #27

    As any good Mormon will tell you; Just because something is made up, doesn’t mean it’s not true.

  34. I don’t understand The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy being banned, unless these are the kinds of teachers that ban any book which might actually be fun to read. I could understand, maybe, banning So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish since it actually contains sex, but there’s nothing wrong with the first book.

  35. Ok even after the “Oh, it’s a catholic school” epiphany moment – 1984? Animal Farm? What could they have to (reasonably) object to there, other than the message “sometimes it’s good to question authority”?

  36. I’m just repeating what Patyeon noticed really – the content of her previous question:
    “I find that usually the books teens and other age groups are discouraged from reading are the best. My school doesn’t have any banned books, but my friend goes to a catholic private school and the list is list ten pages long. It doesn’t even have to be a school list. Any banned books please thanks.”

    Obviously it’s good that she’s raising awareness about the ignorance of censorship and many schools do probably ban these books, but her creative license has gone a little wild, possibly.

  37. Holy fuck that’s a sorry situation. Many of my favourite books are on that list, and I can’t imagine having grown up without them. What a fucked up school.

  38. I am thankful that my high school curriculum included more than half of these books. You know, if people are so concerned with sex and violence in literature, they ought to ban the Bible! More power to this kid for sticking to his guns and inspiring a whole new generation to enjoy reading.

  39. What a wonderful human being. I hope that kid is able to get far away from there come senior year.

    Also agree pink rose avatar + Kat pseudonym = girl…but you never know.

    This is supposed to be THE LAND OF THE FREE! No books should be banned.

  41. I seriously don’t get banned book lists – I mean, seriously?! People don’t read much these days anyway and they ban books in the USA?
    So weird.
    Most books are classics, what could possibly be wrong with the Divine Comedy?
    This american sex bigotry thing never fails to crack me up. Teach teenagers how to avoid unwanted pregnanicies and even more unwanted STDs. Demonizing the subject will only make it even more interesting.

  42. I ran a lending library in primary school – I got rumbled when the Exorcist and Prince of the City fell out of my schoolbag.
    I really doubt a Catholic H.S. in the US has a list of banned books like this. Maybe a evangelical “Christian” H.S?

  43. Ok, this appears to be shenanigans, but I still can’t get over the idea of Twilight being “polluting” while Interview with a Vampire gets a place of honor in her (imaginary) locker!

  44. “Most of the books were banned because they contained information that opposed Catholicism.”

    I doubt this statement is grounded on much more than the guerrilla librarian’s own opinion.

    While I applaud this person’s actions with all my heart, banned books are usually the result of the ignorance of a few parents/staff, and this has a way of happening almost exclusively in the US. Case in point — in Poland, a country in which there are crosses in public classrooms and a significant majority of students attend Catholic religion classes held on campus during school hours, the idea that a book would be “banned” from school based on the content is completely unheard of.

    Furthermore, I understand that some Catholics could possibly take offense to His Dark Materials trilogy (from what I’ve been told — I haven’t read any of them myself), I really can’t see how any sentient person, religious or not, could argue that the other books on the list are “against Catholicism” in such a manner and to an extent that would result in their being banned. Take a deep breath and think for yourselves, please.

  45. I went to a very conservative Christian high school (though not Catholic), and many of these books listed were REQUIRED reading in our English classes. I can’t believe the level of paranoia and illiteracy held by the school’s administration to want to ban such works.

    On the other hand, perhaps if my high school had banned the books rather than assigning them, more students would have read them.

    Way to go, young librarian.

  46. Damn the man, fight the power! Keep that literature free kid!

    This is the exact kind of non-violent social action that really got me going when I was young…

  47. Wait, what?! The Catcher in the Rye is banned in some schools?!

    It was required reading at my high school. It was part of the curriculum, even.

  48. People seem to be shocked to discover that parts of America are narrow minded, xenophobic and provincial. It’s always been like this in some places.

  49. “I find that usually the books teens and other age groups are discouraged from reading are the best. My school doesn’t have any banned books, but my friend goes to a catholic private school and the list is list ten pages long. It doesn’t even have to be a school list. Any banned books please thanks.”

    Oh, come on, don’t tell me you’ve never heard a “friend of a friend’s” problem!

  50. Glad to see my BS detector is in working order. That just sounded off straight from the beginning.

  51. What freak of school is this?

    I went to a “christian school” and they did not ban

    The Canterbury Tales
    The Divine Comedy
    Paradise Lost
    The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
    A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
    Animal Farm

    The others either hadn’t been written or I just wasn’t aware of.

    Animal Farm was assigned to be read for two separate classes.

    I really don’t understand not allowing Twain’s Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. There is nothing offensive at all in it. I can’t believe it to the point that I doubt how true this story is.

  52. Eric Logan / PsychicPilot

    Sometimes kids (she is 14) make things a lot more complicated than they need to, when they feel they are doing something that may be looked down upon by those who hold power over them (teachers, adults, their peers, the internet).

    So, it seems just as likely that she was covering her ass, by asking the first question in a coy, round-about way (I’ve got a friend..) to avoid accusations of corruption from imagined (in this case) foes. When there was no backlash, and many helpful and encouraging replies, the next question was asked confidently.

    Of course, as a writer she could be just testing the waters for a young rebel character with an interesting pastime.. (she has asked others to vet topics before), but I don’t think that’s incredibly likely.

    We can’t say this is a hoax, or not, without further information. On the face of it, it seems like a truly wonderfiul thing, and it would be great if it were true.

  53. I think too many people here just automatically want to believe schools are cutting freedoms and just want to believe this is true and that some “brave” kid is fighting the power.

    I find it more likey the kid is just seeking attention and making it appear they are some brave kid.

  54. This is 100% hoax – for sheer mechanical reasons.
    1) Unclaimed lockers can not have locks – if you lock one the admin cuts it open ( officially for drugs but an abandoned tuna-on-white is more trouble)
    2) Books left in an unlocked locker would be ‘borrowed’ without the hassle of checking out.

  55. TOM HALE wrote, “How could ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ and ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’ be banned? Those books are harmless.”

    Actually, I think Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is MOSTLY harmless.

  56. details details. Fact is, religious schools exist, they do ban books and they are bigot factories.

  57. I’m just stunned at the books on the list. Animal Farm and Connecticut Yankee were *required* reading at my school. HHGTTG was given to me by a teacher. Sad. Just sad. (And hooray for this kid! We need more like him.)

  58. hey, whattya got for banned songs?

    Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life
    End over end neither left nor to right
    Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights
    Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life.

    Make me, oh make me, Lord more than I am
    Make me a piece in your master game plan
    Free from the earthly tempestion below
    I’ve got the will, Lord if you’ve got the toe.

    Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life
    End over end neither left nor to right
    Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights
    Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life.

    Take all the brothers who’ve gone on before
    And all of the sisters who’ve knocked on your door
    All the departed dear loved ones of mine
    Stick’em up front in the offensive line.

    Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life
    End over end neither left nor to right
    Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights
    Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life.

    Yeah, Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life
    End over end neither left nor to right
    Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights
    Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life.

  59. This post, asking for reading recommendations, does not guarantee fraudulence, but certainly suggests it. She brags, “My school has a giant fiction library with over 10,000 books, so I guarantee they’ll have everything.”;_ylt=AopjF33Q421KAQNL8Krq.Jvty6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20090211164314AAQcxBB

    Her post seems even more ridiculous with her (intentionally funny?) claim not to distribute to freshman, when she herself must be a freshman, if not an eighth-grader (see “I’m a fourteen year-old girl, how should I get my hair styled?”);_ylt=AmC_a4_mDCbv7eBSaSOA_cLty6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20090302125311AA2mPA0

  60. Is someone taking up a collection to support this? Not only for his legal defense fund, but a similar library should be established where ever there is a list of banned books/

  61. “details details. Fact is, religious schools exist, they do ban books and they are bigot factories.”

    Not caring about the truth and facts of real life is how they get to that point.

  62. takuan, there’s always this banned gem from the 90’s:Cop killer! yeah!

    I got my black shirt on.
    I got my black gloves on.
    I got my ski mask on.
    This shits been too long.
    I got my twelve gauge sawed off.
    I got my headlights turned off.
    Im bout to bust some shots off.
    Im bout to dust some cops off.

    Im a cop killer, better you than me.
    Cop killer, fuck police brutality!
    Cop killer, I know your familys grieving,
    (fuck em!)
    Cop killer, but tonight we get even, ha ha.

    I got my brain on hype.
    Tonightll be your night.
    I got this long-assed knife.
    And your neck looks just right.
    My adrenalines pumpin.
    I got my stereo bumpin.
    Im bout to kill me somethin.
    A pig stopped me for nuthin!

    Cop killer, better you than me.
    Cop killer, fuck police brutality!
    Cop killer, I know your mommas grieving,
    (fuck her!)
    Cop killer, but tonight we get even, yeah!

    Die, die, die pig, die!

    Fuck the police!
    Fuck the police!
    Fuck the police!
    Fuck the police!

    Fuck the police!
    Fuck the police!
    Fuck the police!
    Fuck the police!

    Cop killer, better you than me.
    Im a cop killer, fuck police brutality!
    Cop killer, I know your familys grieving,
    (fuck em!)
    Cop killer, but tonight we get even, ha ha ha ha, yeah!

    Fuck the police!
    Fuck the police!
    Fuck the police!
    Fuck the police!

    Fuck the police!
    Fuck the police!
    Fuck the police!
    Fuck the police!
    Break it down.

    Fuck the police, yeah!
    Fuck the police, for darryl gates.
    Fuck the police, for rodney king.
    Fuck the police, for my dead homies.
    Fuck the police, for your freedom.
    Fuck the police, dont be a pussy.
    Fuck the police, have some muthafuckin courage.
    Fuck the police, sing along.

    Cop killer!
    Cop killer!
    Cop killer!
    Cop killer!

    Cop killer! whaddyou wanna be when you grow up?
    Cop killer! good choice.
    Cop killer! Im a muthafuckin
    Cop killer!

    Cop killer, better you than me.
    Cop killer, fuck police brutality!
    Cop killer, I know your mommas grieving,
    (fuck her!)
    Cop killer, but tonight we get even!

  63. I think that it is fairly telling that not only are the books banned in the school, but the students are “too chicken” to check them out of a public library or to buy / ask their parents to buy them for their own private collections.

    That sort of indoctrination is what scares me more than having a volume cut out of a private collection. The school has every right to decide what goes on their shelves — it’s not like they can keep the kids from getting the books elsewhere…but make the kids afraid to read the “bad stuff” outside of the school too, and the job is complete.

  64. some of the people that have made comment clearly didn’t read the article to well. It’s apparent that the kid in question goes to a private catholic school, this does not reflect a trend in American schools, just this one in particular.
    I am surprised though, I went to a private christian high school and the lit teachers I had loved these books and encouraged us to read anything we got our hands on.
    I am glad you are doing this, it is exactly what I would have done given your situation, keep it up, they can’t do anything to you. If you’re caught tell more people, the only thing that they could possibly do is acknowledge the ban and look like buffoons. Besides if they really took you to the grinder with this and don’t see how many people you’ve made a fan of the written word and it’s influence they deserve all the bad press possible…

  65. How do you know what is being claimed is true?

    It is frankly ridiculous that people want to give medals and scholarships, but as far as we know that post could be a not so elaborated hoax.

  66. If lending books is outlawed, then only outlaws will lend books.

    BTW, despite the conjecturing, we don’t know who banned the books or why, but the more traditional list from the American Library Association, which monitors book bannings, notes that it come from all sides for all reasons; liberals (yes, liberals) have banned Tom Sawyer in some places because of racism, for instance. So it’s not necessarily prudes or religious zealots who go banning books.

  67. (Original submitter here)

    I am embarrassed in my assumption that the teenager in question was a boy, not a girl. Sorry about that!

  68. Wait, what?! The Catcher in the Rye is banned in some schools?! It was required reading at my high school. It was part of the curriculum, even.

    My experience has been that public school will include “scandalous” books of perceived literary merit solely to completely neuter the dramatic and intellectual significance of those books via the narrative provided in the curriculum for teaching it.

    (I discovered this myself precisely with Catcher in the Rye, as I had read it a few years before it was required in my curriculum, and the scholastic interpretation was way off-base… like when GWB used the word “freedom”.)

    This is a far more devious and effective means of “banning” the book. Instead of turning it into a “forbidden object of mystery” for students to discover and interpret on their own, the book is force-fed and analyzed only for the most insignificant and inconsequential reasons. The result is that children lose interest or are immunized against the genuine value of that literature.

    Dead Poet’s Society captured that phenomenon quite well:

    Understanding Poetry, by Dr. J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D. To fully understand poetry, we must first be fluent with its meter, rhyme, and figures of speech. Then ask two questions: One, how artfully has the objective of the poem been rendered, and two, how important is that objective. Question one rates the poem’s perfection, question two rates its importance. And once these questions have been answered, determining a poem’s greatest becomes a relatively simple matter. If the poem’s score for perfection is plotted along the horizontal of a graph, and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness. A sonnet by Byron may score high on the vertical, but only average on the horizontal. A Shakespearean sonnet, on the other hand, would score high both horizontally and vertically, yielding a massive total area, thereby revealing the poem to be truly great. As you proceed through the poetry in this book, practice this rating method. As your ability to evaluate poems in this matter grows, so will – so will your enjoyment and understanding of poetry.

  69. This kid is a visionary! I would like to know if I can support the cause! I am appalled at the different books that have unfortunately found themselves on the American Library Association’s Banned Book List. Like Shel Silverstein, or Judy Blume, for example. But I have to admit, “Hitch Hiker’s Guide” really had me stumped. My goal is to own every single American Banned book before I die, which means I will need a new place, sadly enough. Land of the free, yeah, if you’re a Conservative Fundamentalist! (Could someone please tell me why “How To Eat Fried Worms” was banned?)

  70. bacon, books and truth:

    “Granger unfolded an oilskin with some bacon in it. “We’ll have a bite. Then we’ll turn around and walk upstream. They’ll be needing us up that way.”
    Someone produced a small frying-pan and the bacon went into it and the frying-pan was set on the fire. After a moment the bacon began to flutter and dance in the pan and the sputter of it filled the morning air with its aroma. The men watched this ritual silently.
    Granger looked into the fire. “Phoenix.”
    “There was a silly damn bird called a Phoenix back before Christ: every few hundred years he built a pyre and burned himself up. He must have been first cousin to Man. But every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we’re doing the same thing, over and over, but we’ve got one damn thing the Phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we just did. We know all the damn silly things we’ve done for a thousand years, and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, some day we’ll stop making the goddam funeral pyres and jumping into the middle of them. We pick up a few more people that remember, every generation.”
    He took the pan off the fire and let the bacon cool and they ate it, slowly, thoughtfully.
    “Now, let’s get on upstream,” said Granger. “And hold on to one thought: You’re not important. You’re not anything. Some day the load we’re carrying with us may help someone. But even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use what we got out of them. We went right on insulting the dead. We went right on spitting in the graves of all the poor ones who died before us. We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we’re doing, you can say, We’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run. And some day we’ll remember so much that we’ll build the biggest goddam steam-shovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up. Come on now, we’re going to go build a mirror-factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them.”

  71. Are the facts established as to whether this post involves a hoax or not? Seems the question is open.

    #48 Octopussoup: “I find it more likey the kid is just seeking attention and making it appear they are some brave kid.”

    Freudian omission of the ‘l’? (likey =/= likely?) One bunch likes the idea of censorship to rail against, another likes the idea of a troll kid hoaxing.

    I likey the idea of not rushing to judgement. And I fail at that ideal as much as anyone.

  72. Well, Paradise Lost has some super-bitchy stuff on Catholics at the end of book 3; as Satan flies out of through Chaos toward Eden he sees a bunch of false prophets, including (gasp!), Papists!

    And they who to be sure of Paradise
    Dying put on the weeds of Dominic,
    Or in Franciscan think to pass disguis’d;
    They pass the Planets seven, and pass the fixt,
    And that Crystalline Sphear whose ballance weighs
    The Trepidation talkt, and that first mov’d;
    And now Saint Peter at Heav’ns Wicket seems
    To wait them with his Keys, and now at foot
    Of Heav’ns ascent they lift thir Feet, when loe
    A violent cross wind from either Coast
    Blows them transverse ten thousand Leagues awry
    Into the devious Air; then might ye see
    Cowles, Hoods and Habits with thir wearers tost
    And flutterd into Raggs, then Reliques, Beads,
    Indulgences, Dispenses, Pardons, Bulls,
    The sport of Winds: all these upwhirld aloft
    Fly o’re the backside of the World farr off
    Into a Limbo large and broad, since calld
    The Paradise of Fools, to few unknown
    Long after, now unpeopl’d, and untrod….

    Heh heh, Catholics lost in space for all eternity! So if it’s a Catholic school, maybe that’s the reason? And there’s a lot of blood and poop and whatnot in the Commedia, but, still, these are odd things to ban.

  73. This kid is incredible. I’m under the impression you he lives in the United States, and I’m floored by the fact that whoever did this had the gusto to do so. Long live open minds!

  74. The only reasons banned lists exist is to get kids to read. From the list of books this school banned, I guess they are really conservative, and this systems deserves to be subverted.

  75. One should be suspicious of any claim that in the present day any high school is banning some of these materials. Other books that make any claimed “banned” list suspicious would include:

    Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead [for excessive use of the word ‘poopyhead’]
    James Joyce’s Ulysses II [sellout]
    The Turner Diaries [too much sex]
    The Chilton Manual for the 1989 Honda Civic [self explanatory]
    The Memoirs of Fanny Hill [blatant Benny Hill ripoff]
    War and Peace [monumentally boring]
    The Unabomber Manifesto [Superintendent still feuding with Ted Kaczynski over an incident in high school]

  76. The result is that children lose interest or are immunized against the genuine value of that literature.

    For additional irony, I’d like to point out that — writ large — is the actual point behind Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. The adults are phonies, and no one does wonder where the ducks go in winter. Children are socialized into adults who care only for hollow pursuits.

  77. We read the Divine Comedy in religion class at my Catholic high school, as well as extracts of the Qu’ran, various Hindu and Buddhist texts, etc. At least half a dozen of the other books were assigned reading during English class. We also had great science classes, seeing as the Catholic Church is OK with evolution; this makes the banning of “the Descent of Man” seem rather unlikely as well.

    I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call it a hoax – the kid could simply be exaggerating or misinformed – but parts of the story don’t ring true.

  78. This school should get sued, along with the parents of that bright kid who send her to such a school.

  79. I am a teacher and I think what you are doing is great. The location of your library being in a locker, may be up to interpretation, but I think if you are getting others to read for enjoyment, more power to you!!

  80. I have great respect for this girl and think she is definately doing the right thing.

    I was thinking though, a lot of people seem to be commenting on the fact that banning these books has actually had a fantastic effect by encouraging kids to read. Is it possible that the school anticipated this, and banned them for this very reason – in order to promote these books? Or is that way too far fetched?

  81. “details details. Fact is, religious schools exist, they do ban books and they are bigot factories.”

    I think you meant to say “Fact is, religious schools exist, and SOME of them ban books and are bigot factories.”

    In my and my family’s experience, upbringing in a religious school (Catholic, run by nuns) as well as the literature lessons taught by strongly and openly religious teachers in a public school were very open-minded and enlightening. No book was ever banned or ‘wrong’. No mythology was omitted on the grounds that it wasn’t ‘the right one’.

    Tarring all religious schools with the bigot brush is as bad as declaring all books that do not directly praise Jesus as unfit for reading.

  82. I heard a Michael Moorcock interview last year in which he said kids aren’t going to start reading more until reading becomes subversive.

  83. The most important step would be creating book jackets to disguise the offending lit from the sad cops who might be looking for them… Nothing creative or witty titles. No colors that distract.

    The problem with most perfect little situations like this one is that it is probably a week away from getting discovered (now that it has made the news)… For instance: By stating that an empty locker next to yours is holding the books, any enforcer who happens to be reading this article will probably check the empty locker list and then work backwards from there. Those lockers get checked every semester- so it is really only a matter of time before this whole mess gets discovered.

    Better to have the library exist from kid to kid- each book is lent directly from the last borrower (working from an email list) to ensure that the books continue to circulate– in spite of the probable occasional loss/damage/detection that might come into play. It seems like it might open up a more interesting lending society (not so centric to the librarian and his vacant locker).

  84. wow, what a brave little soul.
    It is kids like these that restore my faith in humanity. I am afraid what will happen to him/her if he/she gets caught though :(

  85. re: Twilight – I enjoyed Twilight til I hit something my suspension of disbelief couldn’t overcome. Not the vampires or lycanthropes – not even the shining… the fact that the younger looking vampires risked it by attending school instead of just having their ‘parents’ say they were homeschooled!!!

    1. the fact that the younger looking vampires risked it by attending school instead of just having their ‘parents’ say they were homeschooled!!!

      Maybe she didn’t want to associate homeschooling with vampirism. Don’t Mormons have a high rate of homeschooling?

  86. TOM HALE wrote, “How could ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ and ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’ be banned? Those books are harmless.”

    Actually, I think Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is MOSTLY harmless.”

    Thank you, DMichaelDillon, for stepping up to the plate there. ;) And remember, kids: tomorrow is May 25! Do you know where your towel is?

    Back on topic, I don’t think I have enough information to evaluate the truth of this specific story. However, I will say that books are banned in school districts across the US for no greater reason than some parent having a conniption over an out-of-context passage. I can very easily see a religious school getting up in arms over HG2G not because of the content of the books (which, ok, is subversive, antiauthoritarian, and suggests that Earth is a computer built for mice, which could ruffle a few creationist feathers) but because Douglas Adams was a vocal atheist. It doesn’t have to make sense; as some of my teachers used to love pointing out, school =/= democracy. This list may seem ridiculous and quaint, but some parents/school administrators are equally ridiculous and quaint, and not just in the Bible belt. The idea that a school would ban all of these books is believable.

  87. I’m utterly appalled that a school would ban a book. Any school in Britain who did such a thing would face prosecution.

  88. I’m surprised so many people could take this as genuine, both from the way the post is written, as well as from all the extra evidence of her other posts. Among other things, it just doesn’t seem likely that she could be only fourteen herself and yet unwilling to check out books to those in the same grade as her, but rather only to those above her.

    (For whatever reason, since this morning the girl appears to have blocked access to her other posts.)

    Many of her posts, which I looked at earlier, are about her ideas for plots. I haven’t bothered to read what any of those are (though it appears they’re generally in the fantasy genre), but I’d say she’s definitely come up with a heck of a story here. And as all the positive posts indicate, it’s a story people find appealing. She should bump it up to feature length.

  89. @me above–*disclaimer that not ALL schools, religious or secular, are pestilent pits of anti-intellectualism. For counterexample, my religious school assigned plenty of these books–we read not just Dante but The Decameron (lots of sex in there!) and we *talked* about them too!

  90. This is retarded. Why doesn’t the kid just keep the books at his house and bring them in as people ask for them? It’s like he wants to be caught.

    Am I missing something?

    yeah – catcher in the rye was required material at my school – as well as Canterbury Tales and Animal Farm.and i went to a public school. in texas. what kind of a school is this?

  91. I’m going to post a question on Yahoo asking if I could get in trouble that I organized an anti-RIAA club on my junior-high campus and got some sort of legal victory.

    Instant blog hero! No fact-checking!

  92. @nathanmcginty It’s a business concern – your service is more popular if the turnaround between “sale” and “delivery” of the product is fast :)

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the student was charging – entrepreneurship! – but even if not, this scheme is going to be a lot more popular if people can just wander by at lunchtime.

    I too would love to know what kind of school has these rules.

  93. So, nothing about Islam, Italians, Teenagers, Christianity, Vampires, Time Travel, Evolution, Witches, or Medival Peasent Stories. What DO they let you read?

  94. I went to a Catholic high school which required that you have a parental permission slip signed because parents were concerned about their children reading “dirty” books. My mom gave me permission to forge her signature because she didn’t give a hoot.

    Because my older siblings where there when the policy started, I know the the “dirty” book which started the policy was “I Know Why the Caged Bird sings”. Because apparently rape is dirty/sexy? WHUT.

    Of course, this is the same school where I spoiled the ending (THEY DIE) of Romeo and Juliet for half my freshman class. Which will never stop being tragic for me.

    But surprising, the school library was actually pretty decent. They had a not half bad assortment of speculative books and an extensive nonfiction catalog.

  95. This is one of those situations which clearly demonstrates the value of DRM-less ebooks. Try “banning” something that can be copied onto ordinary CDs a hundred times over in a day, fascists.

  96. This kid is my hero! I have spent all school year teaching previously challenged or banned books to my students. I have also spent all year catching significant amounts of flack from my fellow teachers for doing so! Keep doing what you’re doing kid! So few students appreciate a good book anymore; partly because all the “good” books have been banned. Keep it up!

  97. This kid shouldn’t be in trouble, he should be given a frickin’ award! That is awesome. Exposing kids to literature, and good literature, is something most kids resist. This is awesome. I looked at that list and couldn’t believe what’s banned… Animal Farm? That is one of the greatest social commentaries ever written! And the Holy Qaran? That’s just ridiculous… that’s banning a bible… So much for freedom of religion.

  98. congratulations kid
    it’s ridiculous that today in the XXI’st century there are still an “index” of forbidden books
    tough, if you think about it, this prohibition its actually making kids read books they wouldn’t even think about reading.

  99. But surprising, the school library was actually pretty decent.

    My school library didn’t have Neuromancer. That’s when I realized they didn’t have “everything”, as one would expect from a real library.

    1. I miss the 70s, when you could see Deliverance on a high school field trip.

  100. Yeah, sorry, Cory, but this is almost certainly a hoax. Aside from the evidence of the previous posts that indicate that this is a wannabe-screenwriter that is trolling Yahoo Answers for ideas, my experience as a librarian (and an avid lifelong reader) suggest that:

    1) No school that I know of has used a list of books that have been banned at one time or another, at one school or another, and used them to purge their library stacks en masse, nor has any parent or pro-censorship group that I know of. They’ll usually pick on a particular book, or at most a fairly small list. In particular, trying to ban The Canterbury Tales, The Divine Comedy, and Paradise Lost at the same time would certainly make the news. It’s not impossible, just extremely improbable.

    2) The problem with “Kat Atreides” running her own lending library is that if she’s lending to anyone who wants the books, that means that she would have to let people outside of her personal circle(s) know about it, which means that someone would probably have snitched on her and she’d have been busted inside of a week. If she’s just lending to friends, well, then, she’s just doing what my book-reading friends and I have done since time immemorial.

    3) Not only are “most of the kids are too chicken or their parents won’t let them but [buy?] the books”, but they can’t browse through them at their local library or bookstore, and they have Project Gutenberg blocked on every single computer that they have access to, and haven’t heard of Peacefire. Uh-huh. Oh, but somehow she can get her hands on sixty-odd books and smuggle them into school. What did she do, dig a tunnel under the wall that separates Catlick Creek or wherever she pretends to be from the rest of the U.S.?

    Look, Cory, I know that this is the sort of thing that presses your good buttons, but instead of “a full-ride scholarship to the best library school in the country” (gosh, wouldn’t I have liked to have had that, if it existed), how about you find her some tips for her on storywriting, with a focus on plugging plot holes?

  101. I’m inclined to think its a somewhat fake story. some titles mentioned as banned raise my incredulity flag but it also doesn’t help that something so well thought out is even posed as a “question”. in fact i have seen people using yahoo questions to make statements (sometimes as jokes) rather than real questions. and that would be fine except the skeptic in me is inclined to think there is no highschool girl behind this. Lets face it the idea sounds great – but is it true? to some that might not matter, but ask oprah how she feels about that.
    In yahoo questions i have tracked some posters that made it to digg et al like the one naive kid asking about the mom spending too much time with a teacher (ha ha clearly an affair) only to see the same poster ask a question later posing as a dumb adult, etc. I think there may be some truthyness to this story and truth may be in a million little pieces. – “To extraordinary claims, demand extraordinary proof”

  102. I’d expect to see the Harry Potter books on that list, if it is a Catholic school. Of course, maybe the Potter series is not deemed to have literary value. Of course, the series is basically an allegory of the story of Christ, especially the last book, but if they are banning “Catcher in the Rye”, the powers that be probably lack the imagination to see the HP series in a pro-Christian light.

  103. the kissimmee [florida] public library main branch used to [don’t live there anymore so i don’t know the current practice] keep all the books banned from that county’s public schools in a glass case in the lobby with a sign that you had to be an adult or get your parent’s permission to check them out. those books probably got checked out more than any others. hehe
    i was very startled one day to see ‘little house in the big woods’ in there [from the children’s classic little house on the prairie series]

    catcher in the rye was banned at my high school. i read once, many years ago, that more japanese school kids read catcher in the rye than americans because it’s on their list for their mandatory english language classes but banned from so many american schools.

    1. The Catholic Church has, by the way, historically discouraged its adherents from reading the Bible.

  104. Big thanks to #125 Halloween Jack for saving me from having to type up the many ways the article also tickled my professional librarian’s BS detector…

    Which is not to say that schools do not ban books – they do! Almost always at the request of some parents.

    Cory, why not direct these fictional scholarship funds to the Freedom To Read Foundation, which has been the real hero in a decades long battle to bring “banned” material back to public and school library shelves. They’re the main compiler of the lists of books that have been banned, and they fight for the intellectual freedom of young people using both the courts and the power of public opinion – and they’ve had a rough year (with the tragic loss of longtime director Judith Krug – donate in her memory).


  105. The question “Why is ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ on the list?” is answered thus:

    “And then one day, nearly two-thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change…”

    “Oolan Colluphid’s blockbuster trilogy, ‘Where God Went Wrong’, ‘Some More of God’s Mistakes’, and ‘Who is this God Person, Anyway?’.”

    Or the bit about the Babel fish (dis)proving the existence of God.

    There’s tons of stuff someone uptight and religious might take offense to.

  106. Animal Farm is BANNED?!?!?!? At my school we read that in an English lesson and we had to essays on it, the hole shabang. hat kids school must REALLY suck! And for the record I think that what he’s doing is uber-cool.

  107. My father made me read ‘Catcher in the Rye’ at 14. While it is an amazing book, it’s also exactly not what a normal father would want his son to read (prostitution, psychotic break, teacher almost molesting kid). Still, I turned out, not okay, but interesting.

    I would love to know how this kid turns out ten or twenty years in the future. Hell, I’d love to _know_ the kid ten or twenty years in the future. There should be a fund for the kid’s book supply/legal defense fund/college tuition/campaign fund.

    Farenheit 451 could be made to fit things today with a few edits. Why aren’t they remaking it? Harrison Ford as the old book burner, Brad Pitt as the new one, Clint Eastwood as the secret book hoarder.

  108. @34

    “BoingBoing Scholarship for Awesomeness”

    can i add resounding approval for that?!?

  109. I’m not sure it’s important whether the kid, or the underground library actually exists. Surely the idea of the underground library is enough to sustain us?

    For some reason, this thread reminds me of a passage from Don DeLillo’s White Noise, which I’m sure must have been banned at my school library:

    Several days later Murray asked me about a tourist attraction known as the most photographed barn in America. We drove 22 miles into the country around Farmington. There were meadows and apple orchards. White fences trailed through the rolling fields. Soon the signs started appearing. THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA. We counted five signs before we reached the site. There were 40 cars and a tour bus in the makeshift lot. We walked along a cowpath to the slightly elevated spot set aside for viewing and photographing. All the people had cameras; some had tripods, telephoto lenses, filter kits. A man in a booth sold postcards and slides — pictures of the barn taken from the elevated spot. We stood near a grove of trees and watched the photographers. Murray maintained a prolonged silence, occasionally scrawling some notes in a little book.

    “No one sees the barn,” he said finally.

    A long silence followed.

    “Once you’ve seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn.”

    He fell silent once more. People with cameras left the elevated site, replaced by others.

    We’re not here to capture an image, we’re here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura. Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies.”

    There was an extended silence. The man in the booth sold postcards and slides.

    “Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We’ve agreed to be part of a collective perception. It literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism.”

    Another silence ensued.

    “They are taking pictures of taking pictures,” he said.

    He did not speak for a while. We listened to the incessant clicking of shutter release buttons, the rustling crank of levers that advanced the film.

    “What was the barn like before it was photographed?” he said. “What did it look like, how was it different from the other barns, how was it similar to other barns?”

  110. Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.
    (or movie worth watching, or song worth hearing, or art worth experiencing…)

  111. Im surprised that books in the USA can be banned.
    If this story is true, this kid is hero!

  112. I’ll reserve judgment until I understand who benefits. So far I don’t see how Kat Atreides gets anything out of this except warm fuzzies.

    Follow the money!

  113. Ah, reminds me of me own High School days…snatching an education from second-hand bookstores, Great Books lists, and the very best of literary erotica….My mother thought I was crazy to read “The Magic Mountain” (since it was “German”, it was of course “deep”,and therefore stupid to even attempt)…and then, fell in love. (I still spend sick days trying to snap up any sun and fresh air I can, imagining myself in Davos….)

  114. Two days before asking the banned books question, Kat Atreides asked for a list of banned books, specifically noting that her school doesn’t ban any books.

    I find that usually the books teens and other age groups are discouraged from reading are the best. My school doesn’t have any banned books, but my friend goes to a catholic private school and the list is list ten pages long. It doesn’t even have to be a school list. Any banned books please thanks. Just novels.

    It’s also startling and amazing how much about her I now know from her Yahoo Answers activity. Any school administrator with half an ounce of Google fu would know she’s 15, black hair, oval face, shy, and in the filmmaking club, and probably lives in Georgia, whose real first and middle names are “Katniss Roger”.

  115. I say fake. Every book on this list is deliberately chosen to annoy or piss off some section of society. No Catholic school teaches evolution – it’s just not doctrine. Catholics don’t care about Animal Farm or Mark Twain. Paradise Lost is probably one of the mythological foundations of modern Catholicism, if not most of 19th century literature.

    Sure, I’m not a big fan of the Catholic Church (after 8 years of good ol’ Catholic school fun), but they aren’t a bunch of literal-Bible, fundamentalist fascists.

  116. how any book can be banned is beyond me. at any rate, this kid does deserve some sort of recommendation for attempting to ensure the freedom of access to those around him to materials that may be considered “inappropriate”. i find it incredibly disheartening to see that people feel the need to censor such works, especially as so many of them are truly classics!!! you go kid!!

  117. Doesn’t sound like Kat needs a library in her locker.

    My school has a giant fiction library with over 10,000 books, so I guarantee they’ll have everything. Except they don’t have Twilight. I had to buy it myself… I like fiction books that are dark and/or depressing, and I also love high fantasy. Dark books I like: A Certain Slant of Light, Sabriel, Across the Wall, City of Ember, Shade’s Children Depressing books I like: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Wuthering Heights, Shade’s Children High Fantasy books I like: Lord of the Rings, Eragon, Deltora series What should I read next? I’m at a pretty advanced reading level (except for Deltora, but that’s just like a guilty pleasure) If it matters, I’m a fifteen year old girl. I’ve heard that the Dragonriders of Pern series is good…

  118. This is a minor quibble, but if I was one of the freshman judged not to be mature enough by the underground librarian’s standards, I would not applaud very much. Giver hir three-quarters of a National Medal of freedom.

    I had to read Canterbury Tales in public high school for sophomore literature class, and Animal Farm for an optional sci-fi and fantasy lit class open to any grade.

  119. Here’s an odd thing.
    As I look down the list of books, around 50% of them have been or still are recommended reading in Australian schools.

  120. That’s odd, all of those books are in my school library and it’s Catholic. Maybe difference in policy.

    As much as I love that he’s encouraging reading, he’s just asking for trouble.

  121. Excuse me, but I had a Catholic education and I feel we were taught evolution more strongly, in the 80s, than my children are now being taught in public school. Did Pope Pious something-or-other in the 1930s say we were supposed to believe in science? And we read 1984 for 11th grade lit (gasp)!

  122. This story just made my night a bit better.
    Banning Garth Nix books? That’s a crime! I don’t know what I would have done if my school library hadn’t led me to those.

  123. Wow, that school district consists of some real douchebag piece of garbage. No books are outright harmful, and some of those books are completely tame. Also, if the Quran is banned, then every other book had damn well better be banned too.

  124. I suspected this was a hoax the moment I saw it.
    You know why?
    Because I immediately thought, “If I wanted to become an instant Boing Boing hero, this is exactly the post that I would write.” It is precisely what would have happened at the next high school over in the Little Brother universe.
    But yeah, the idea is great. =)

  125. As much as I see the injustice in the banning of the books you listed; the school has rules and you as a member need to follow them. Don’t jeopardize you future (which looks quite bright, judging by the books you are currently reading) trying to instill the importance of reading in your peers. In a few years you and your fellow students will not need permission to read anything.

    1. In a few years you and your fellow students will not need permission to read anything.

      Because we’ll rise up and overthrow the oppressors?

  126. “give this kid a medal!”

    are you kidding me? there is nothing more useless to a smart young person with a well-developed sense of subversion than a fucking medal, given by a group of patronizing, douchebag adults. i have a box of them somewhere, waiting to be melted down into something cool and useful.

    screw the medal. get this kid a slingshot.

  127. I think “The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist” should be bannd. It encourages kids to visit the dentist and bear their teeth.

  128. “I’m not sure it’s important whether the kid, or the underground library actually exists. Surely the idea of the underground library is enough to sustain us?”

    The notion that reality is less important than ideas that support what we already believe is exactly how you end up with schools that ban books.

  129. This sounds like a hoax to me. The first thing that struck me as odd is that “Animal Farm” is on the list, and when I was in elementary school, George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and “1984” were part of the California state government-mandated curriculum.

    It’s long struck me as significant that “1984,” a critique of Stalinist totalitarianism, and “Animal Farm,” a satire of the Russian Revolution’s transformation into a harsh dictatorship, were assigned reading, but Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia,” a memoir of Orwell’s membership in a revolutionary left militia in Spain, before the Spanish revolutionary left was betrayed by Stalinism, was not assigned reading. Half the truth was left out, leaving us with a half-truth.

  130. What town is this kid from? I work in a library and sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get teens to read these books, and it’s no way out of fear, they would much rather read books like Twilight. Though, I am ecstatic to hear that kids are rebelling to read books that have been banned, they are great books and deserve to be read.

  131. Heh, I clicked on the link all prepared to unleashe a torrent of “zomgz, evil school” outrage. Bu\t after reading the comments seems clear it’s someone’s shenanigans. I’m relatively amused.. a successful hoax, for sure:P Although it does highlight an important and disturbing issue, censorship in schools.

    Attempts to dumb-down children based on the morals of 500 years ago are ongoing. Always a threat to intellectual growth.

  132. Assuming that the person is real, true and honest:

    1) Awfully hypocritical of the writer to establish an arbitrary grade limit for her library. You could say that this school is practicing by the same rules.

    2) Again, hypocritical to establish “literary quality” for her little locker-library. In his time, Shakespeare was considered a derivative hack-playwright for the plebeian masses. Just because you don’t agree that Sweet Valley High, Stephen King or the Twilight series is “high literature” DOESN’T mean you get to pass judgment (aka BAN them from a library). Reading is reading, it should be encouraged in ALL forms, not just the ones that this little girl deems “worthy.”

    3) Hitchhiker’s Guide is typically banned because of its fairly critical take on religion and deism. Douglas Adams was an avowed and devoted atheist and tended to weave that viewpoint throughout his writing. Animal Farm could actually be read as a damning critique on the Catholic Church and the role of the pope (cult of personality), not just of Communism. Just something I found out from my mom when she was forced to fail an English class for writing that exact paper when she was in a Midwest Catholic high school in the 1960s.

  133. dammnit! t’aint tha point! hoax or no, the problem’s always there and always needs vigilance.

  134. Heh, I teach in a private Catholic school and a number of those books are part of our suggested or required reading list (required: Canterbury Tales, Animal Farm, Paradise Lost, Divine Comedy). I’m pretty sure all the rest are in our library, too. I’ve personally taught Animal Farm. So if it’s a hoax, I find it personally offensive and malicious; if it’s not, I find it pathetic (on the school’s part) and great on the kid’s, although as the only kid reading that kind of stuff outside of class at my own high school, I find it unlikely the lending library is really all that popular.

    Fides et ratio, people.

  135. I did something like this in high school, but I gave away .txt versions of the school’s entire list of banned books on 512MB flash drives that the local computer repair place was giving out as a promotion.

    The flash drives also contained a copy of FireFox, which was VERY useful for circumventing the poorly configured content blocker. (The use of FireFox later became a suspendable offense, I then started giving away copies of FF that were skinned to look look like IE.)

    Yah, I was a little hellion/revolutionary. I wonder what I would have done if I had read Little Brother back then.

  136. “I’m pretty sure all the rest are in our library, too. I’ve personally taught Animal Farm. So if it’s a hoax, I find it personally offensive and malicious”

    I can tell you that all of these books a have been banned, at sometime, somewhere, and the list is valid and no need to be personally offended.

  137. suspended for not using microsoft’s shite? A school list of banned books? Why do the two go together so well?

  138. @ post 166.

    Equating the banning books by an educational institution for political and religious reasons with an individual providing access to a personal library is just plain stupid. The person in question has no moral or ethical obligation to educate his peers. That obligation lies with the school.

    Considering that the person HAS TO PURCHASE THE BOOKS THEMSELVES, why should they purchase books that they don’t enjoy or like?

    Get of your high horse. Or please, show us that you actually own every book ever published or would be willing to purchase any book if I asked you for an arbitrary loan

  139. It’s not illegal. I sure hope this kid’s school doesn’t find out though. Well done. Keep fighting the good fight!

  140. Personally, I’m leaning towards “hoax” on the actual story.

    Either way, for the people mystified as to why H2G2 would be “banned”, it would very likely be for the atheist content.

    True story: in high school, a friend and I were heavily into H2G2. We tried to share this enthusiasm with another friend. She got as far as Oolon Colluphid before she gave the book back and said she refused to read it because it was blasphemy.

    Ironically, my friend who loved it went to a Pentecostal evangelical church. I was also an active Christian then, but then I was Episcopalian, so that doesn’t count.

  141. That kid deserves a medal, what an absolute star. My mind is still boggling at the fact that the school has banned Hitchhikers Guide though – what can possibly be seen as harmful in that series?

  142. I never really thought of my high school as progressive, but jeez! Half of the banned books listed here were required reading!

  143. #145: “No Catholic school teaches evolution – it’s just not doctrine. Catholics don’t care about Animal Farm or Mark Twain.”

    #74: “‘details details. Fact is, religious schools exist, they do ban books and they are bigot factories.’ Not caring about the truth and facts of real life is how they get to that point.”

    False. I spent 14 years in a Catholic girls’ school and they were hardly the anti-evolutionists you portray them to be. As someone commented earlier, Catholics don’t take Genesis literally and hard science is the order of the day.

    You generalise too much. In fact, you sound as bigoted as people who think Harry Potter books are the work of the devil without even reading the series. I’ve read a lot of the books on that list (which surprises and saddens me to no end), encouraged by my teachers: Animal Farm was required reading in junior year and we were taking up Dahl’s The Witches and The Bridge to Terabithia early in grade school. My brother is now reading about Tom Sawyer in his all-boys private school.

    Our schools did sometimes send out letters about controversial books or movies but only to suggest that parents read/see them with their kids so they can answer questions or clarify things that kids may be too young to understand. The Roman Catholic Church has come a long way from burning books on pyres.

    Coming from a predominantly Catholic Asian country, I am surprised that this whole affair could happen in the USA, so well-known for its forward-thinking and freedom of speech. Well, well.

  144. What kind of school bans “The Catcher in the Rye”? :O Is it that bad already out there? What parents are letting there kids go to a school like that? The parents should be held accountable for deprieving their kids of a valuable education.

  145. Any person that tells you not to read Animal Farm is a person not to be trusted at all!

    I’m hoping/assuming this is a hoax as well. If it’s real, we have to imagine school administrators rubbing their hands together intoning “We are Evil! We are Evil! Heh, heh, Take that, you unsuspecting students! Bwahahahaha!”

  146. I have emailed the Smithsonian Library giving them the heads up that a scholarship may be in order as Cory suggested:

    Feel free to add your own email to the pile I am sure they will get!

  147. I find it hard to comprehend there are still countries that ban books. I live in Slovenia (Europe) and had ANY book available to borrow from the public library at any time of may life. I read Henry Miller and Umberto Eco at 13, Anne Rice and Douglas Adams at 15, Catcher in the Rye was actually required reading in the last year of elementary school.

    And we all turned out more or less normal.

  148. Slightly off topic but when I was 15 I sat in the library at break reading The Colour Purple. When break ended i went to check it out. The librarian wouldn’t let me because I was under age, but said I could come back and read it in the library tomorrow – hypocracy! Sadly enough I didn’t get round to it and I’ve not finished the book since, a real shame. Surely kids should be able to judge for themselves when and what they should read? Cultivating minds that allow for intelligent reading would be more useful than providing a one sided view of the world.

    And no, I dont care if this is fake or not. The topic is stimulating in itself and for that I applaud the kid!

    On the other hand Dark Materials should be banned simply for the utterly poor writing style, the first three Harry Potter’s too – though JK did get better, if only a little!

  149. Animal Farm Banned o.O

    Our school used to make us read it o.O

    As for Sabriel/ The Witches?! I’m guessing its a religious school because otherwise theres really NOTHING aside from a little ‘horror’ elements to them o.O I havent read some of the others but I’m going to guess there much of the same …

  150. #176 RSOL55

    These books aren’t “banned” – it’s unconstitutional to do so. If by “banned” they mean the parochial school doesn’t carry them (I presume because of the anti-Catholic criteria), they’re a private school, they can carry what they want.

    So.. banned then.

    The kid’s a minor, his parents are entitled to have say over what he reads.

    Parents may be entitled to decide what their children read, but not what others’ children do. If you don’t want you kid reading something, then it’s up to you, through trust or punishment, to prevent your child from getting their hands on it. It doesn’t mean you can police your child by restricting everyone elses’.

    If the school were preventing him from reading un-PC depictions of homosexuals or whatnot, all these whiners falsely claiming censorship would have nothing but praise for the school for championing proper social values, etc.

    Really? I think you misread your audience. Why would I not want a young adult to read a story from the perspective of a gay or lesbian character? I assume you are talking equivilancy of content and quality of writing, and aren’t unfairly casting anything-to-do-with-being-gay as pornography. Or perhaps I read you backwards, and you are suggesting that literature containing homophobic assertions should be banned. In that case, I’m not sure I see the equivilancy here.

  151. Most Catholic schools wouldn’t ban most of these books–half of them were required reading in my Catholic high school, a couple in my Catholic elementary school. This ain’t normal Catholicism (though I’m sure it’d make the current Pope and his predecessor smile); the principal must be some sort of freak.

    My Catholic high school let teachers assign books and show movies as they saw fit, and stuff that would have caused a ruckus in public school was no problem (Clockwork Orange–book AND movie plus a couple of plays that we put on that public schools in the area weren’t allowed to). Public school parents can cause a stink–private schools just tell you to take your kid elsewhere if you have a problem. My school may not have been typical Catholic, but this kid’s principal is way, way off the chart.

  152. Brava to this young lady. This is the intestinal fortitude that protected Anne Frank, caused pilgrims to clamber aboard the Mayflower, and made a young soldier recently rush to aide his comrades in Afghanistan clad in pink boxers. It is hope for humanity as another generation comes of age and mine comes to the end of its age.

    I’ve asked my epitaph to be: My Life was an Open Book.

    Speaking of “The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”: May 25th is Towel Day. I’ll be wearing mine and I’m a doddering old 59. You never know if you’re a Dent, a Prefect, or a Rain God.

  153. Amazing and very disturbing. At least 4 of these books were required reading when I was in high school. I’m not an advocate of home schooling, but I think parents should take a more active role in their childrens education and not tolerate censorship.

  154. Thanks to some of the commenters here for doing some research into Kat Atreides to shed some useful skepticism on this whole story. (#29, #49, #125, #128, #144, #147, and #24, #26, #36, #72, #126, and many more) You have saved us all some effort.

    These posts are easy to get riled up about because banning books is bad, teenagers sticking it to the man are good, power to the people etc. I suspect that Cory is smart enough to know it is probably false and even smarter to know that it will be interesting enough for the blog. Case in point, almost two hundred comments on this story.

    However, I don’t know how anyone with internet access these days doesn’t start with the basic assumption that everything they read is false until proven otherwise and with multiple sources. Kind of a wikipedia approach to everything.

  155. Good call leaving the Twilight series out of your collection. The writing is completely shoddy and the literary value negligible.

  156. Stand up ovation to this kid who is just doing the right thing. Censorship and banned books shouldn’t exist. People banning books do it cause they have something to hide, or because those books remind them of their own culpability in some cases.

    You can have a boss or a father telling you what to do, but you can’t have anyone telling you what ideas you should have and what books you can read.

    I used to live in People Republic of China, and it has republic only the name, tons of informations and books from outside or from within have been censored for decades. Thus people remain totally ignorant, and it makes them wiling to take part of any illogical bash. Like beating the hell out of foreigners, gays and any sort of outcast fellows.

    I did my duty in informing the most Chinese people I could, and introduced them to illegal ideas and texts. Do the same, anywhere you can be. Little by little it works.

    Peace and great Honor to Javier
    Keep it up, kid.


  157. hahaha wow! this is unbelievable! Animal Farm and Catcher in the Rye were required reading at my school!

  158. If this story is fake, it’s still a pretty good story, and will serve its purpose if it convinces people to start reading Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett.

    If it is true, the kid deserves a medal and lots of contributions to the cause. Perhaps the readers could box up some of their own books to

    To add my own 2 cents to the debate, yes, my first high school required us to read many of those books, but the 2 schools that had the privilege of hosting me for senior year banned quite a number of them for various reasons. Mostly for language and sexual content, but some for reasons of political correctness. It felt, however, as if they were banned because school board members in Florida couldn’t read well enough to understand the books. Anything with big words went on the list without even a glance.

  159. I have to wonder how often The Canterbury Tales is picked up, the student sees Olde English writing, and promptly puts it back into the pile. Still, kids would probably find the flatulent rooster story funny.

  160. @HHYPE (@187 or so),

    However, I don’t know how anyone with internet access these days doesn’t start with the basic assumption that everything they read is false until proven otherwise and with multiple sources. Kind of a wikipedia approach to everything.

    This is, to me, the most interesting part of this whole episode; where’s the threshold of belief, and how is it shifted by the content? As an extension to the question, is there a statistically meaningful shift in that threshold since internet usage became common? What are some other, significantly contributing, factors?

    I had assumed, as you did, that we would have a very high threshold of belief here on BoingBoing, both due to an observed general (healthy) skepticism, and the fact that the community is, almost by definition, capable enough for sufficient fact-checking.

    Perhaps this is part of data-gathering for a study on skepticism and belief?

  161. …is this then the root of Owism? To follow the ineffable Way through the Web and to finally Get the Joke? If only there were a body of itinerants who walked the length and breadth of the virtual universe and tested for basic Truth as they went.

  162. The post about the banned books was written THREE months after the original one.

    This girl was obviously thinking ahead. If I had the money, I’d pay for all four years of her college education!

  163. i read all of those books i am in the eighth grade i have been to the principles office numerous time for reading the hunger games. i go to millikan middle school the only book that we are allowed to read is twilight and teachers are mad about that one. And Hitchhikers Guide REALLY???

  164. All i want to say is there is such a thing as intellectual shell shock; not being able to take in concepts in a healthy manner.
    The reason people go to an institution for an education is not because the individual is incapable of reading or hearing these ideas on there own, but are not capable of critical judgment yet(she’s still in high school).
    Banning books just shows a lack of communication of the education.
    In many cases it is a lack of interest starting in the faculty or students that causes such extremely violent actions. The lack of interest is obvious in the students seeing how popular the Banned Library is, but it may have started from a lack of interest from the faculty.
    it’s impossible to say what the origin is outside of having a personal relationship with the individuals because they are free beings.
    The faculty could be bending over backwards to teach them how to read Shakespeare but the students don’t want to do anything they are told to; i know this from personal experience i love reading Tolkien, but when i was assigned The Hobbit i couldn’t bring myself to read it again until the end of the year.
    Another scenario is that the faculty could be throwing non-threatening books that “the kids seem to like,” and the students are picking up that there is no educational value to there time in class and they are so starved that they start reading things that affect them in a negative ways because they are not yet capable of learning on there own.
    one word for the faculty:
    Plato’s Republic’s section on censorship is more a reflection of the individual than it is a reflection of society.

  165. @65:

    “This is 100% hoax – for sheer mechanical reasons.
    1) Unclaimed lockers can not have locks – if you lock one the admin cuts it open ( officially for drugs but an abandoned tuna-on-white is more trouble)
    2) Books left in an unlocked locker would be ‘borrowed’ without the hassle of checking out.”

    Ahhh, people who believe because something’s in The Regulations it’s guaranteed to happen exactly as it does on paper. They let us get away with so much when we were in school!

    When I was in school we didn’t have much trouble procuring additional lockers if necessary. THere’s always people who aren’t using a locker, or migrated into someone else’s, or who just didn’t get caught slipping a lock onto an unoccupied one.

    Friend of mine had a locker next to a fairly mangled one – it was damaged to the point where you couldn’t get the door open. He actually took the wall between his locker and that one out to give him some extra space.

  166. Against my baser urges, I will have to enact my frontal cortex and drop a foot on this kind of pandering.

    I want nothing more than to believe this story. I read the title and was thinking about who I was going to send it to before I arrived at the entry.

    There have been several comments written to the tune of “The integrity of the story is irrelevant. Schools do ban books. We need brave souls like this, if only in mental effigy, to raise the lantern against the stark night laid upon us by… Bush. Cheney. The man. Nuns. The Military Industrial Complex. Pick your enemy. Blahblahblah.”

    People. When you do that, you completely undermine whatever validity that the objective, analytical mind can so much as pretend to hold in this country. You can’t just see something that you relate to, something that you identify with, and do whatever it takes to defend that idea (whether it be a story or a news clipping or a blog snippet) from the essential eye of discretion. That’s what fundamentalists do. That -is- fundamentalism. Any desperate, unyielding adherence, depriving oneself the option to see past said belief. We are just so used to haphazardly slinging that word at the “other” side of the political spectrum in this country that it has become associated with “right wingers”. We cannot afford, not now or ever, to lose sight of the fact that we are -all- susceptible to the atrocity that is disenfranchisement. We are susceptible to being disfranchised, as we are susceptible to disenfranchising others.

    It is for this reason that the truth DOES matter. The truth, and our freedom to pursue it, are as precious to some people as ignorance is to others. Some of the authors of the wonderful books on that list tried to get that point across.

    And when we just gloss over something like this with “details, details, people I don’t like still suck, religion blows, Che Guevera t-shirt, wooo”, then we are not taken seriously during those instances when we must stand up against those who would rid of us our right to read and write and discuss and grow. Because of these lapses in discretionary judgment, “right-wingers” call us “left-wingers” and “left-wingers” call us nutjobs.

    So protect the truth, and do whatever it takes to keep that flame lit. I’m not saying that some little girl’s story is going to overthrow the foundation of a solid Republic. But it’s the principle of the matter. It always starts at the principle of the matter, and ends with protesters being shot.

  167. MY school actually had a banned books month, where the English teachers assigned us banned books to read like the catcher in the rye, Fahrenheit 451, Kaffir Boy

    Captcha: Forest Wynn

  168. Some of these books are banned simply because they contain profanity. I’m sure none of the kids in the school have ever heard these words before. Really.

  169. Real or not, to ban such books is a travesty and merely reflects the sad sort of ubiquitous theocracy that seems to have pervaded much of North America. I’m hardly surprised given the numerous incidences of revisionist history and the like which continue to occur but still, if true, it’s a little scary to think how far we’ve fallen as a society. Good on this kid for doing it and I hope they continue.

    “Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.” -Thomas Paine


  170. “I had assumed, as you did, that we would have a very high threshold of belief here on BoingBoing, both due to an observed general (healthy) skepticism, and the fact that the community is, almost by definition, capable enough for sufficient fact-checking.”

    The BB community’s skepticism has a large blind spot for stories that support each individual’s pet causes.

    And you could replace “BB community’s” with “people run run religious schools'” and “all of humanity” and you’d be pretty much dead on as well.

  171. fool! you can no more accuse me of lack of objectivity than you can of lack of patience! SLAP!

  172. I graduated in 2007, and during senior year I was ASSIGNED “A Connecticut Yankee in King Aurthur’s Court”. I’m really surprised to find that on the “banned” list!

  173. @Inkstain (@204 or so) —

    And you could replace “BB community’s” with “people run run religious schools'” and “all of humanity” and you’d be pretty much dead on as well.

    Unfortunately, this appears to be true; that’s what surprised me. I still cling to the hope that the blind spots are smaller here, though.

    The bit that’s piqued my interest is the idea that perhaps the size of these blind spots could be measured. We could probably quantify the “pet cause” factor by combining post topic frequency with some measure of comment count. The higher the result, the more likely we are, as a community, to believe it; maybe call it the “too-good-to-be-true index”?

  174. They banned ANIMAL FARM? You attend school in the United States and they banned Animal Farm? Wow. That’s a big “wtf?” right there. Dude, throw in some more George Orwell and Ayn Rand if you can get your hands on it.

    I love what you are doing!

  175. Poster #166 is an idiot. Limited inventory is not paramount to selected inventory. The kid is working with a school locker that has physical volume of probably less than 3 cubic feet. If poster #166 feels so passionate about having all ‘heretic’ books available, they he/she should offer to not only purchase a copy of each for the article author, but also accommodate space. Until then, poster 166, stfu.

  176. Funny. The banned books list is nearly identical to my required reading for 8th Grade. This would have been about 10 years ago.

  177. There is no way A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is still banned, it was once for its promotion of the use of violence for political change. However not even the conservative of the conservative have banned books for that reason since the fall of the wall.

    Seriously, I have my doubts. But its a lovely idea none the less. I remember at my school library there was a stash of banned ‘magazines’ kept behind some French Language books (which were never ever read and so the perfect hiding place). We were more horny that culture starved…

  178. i think ur doing a good thing..
    im in 8th grade at a private catholic school in california and they have many of those on the reading list…
    i think u should continue with your little library..

  179. Perhaps it’s not (only) this student we should be praising but the school also. What better way to get students to read than to issue a long list of titles and tell them they’re all banned and any student caught with any title on the list will be in *big trouble*? Then sit back and let nature take it’s course… Sheer genius!

  180. this is probably a hoax. but i don’t understand why some people believe it is because certain books that “can no way be banned” are part of her banned book list. it’s a private school they can be stupid and ban any book they want for no reason at all. most of the books on her list were required reading or encouraged in my school.

  181. @#191 POSTED BY HHYPE

    “However, I don’t know how anyone with internet access these days doesn’t start with the basic assumption that everything they read is false until proven otherwise and with multiple sources. Kind of a wikipedia approach to everything.”

    (original submitter here)

    Suitably chastised. I should have done the legwork myself instead of insta-submitting. Learning the lesson for the next time.

    /me goes back to his woodpile

  182. I can’t believe that pthese books are banned! This is why religion has no place in any education system!

  183. “The Witches” banned? Surely not the Roald Dahl book. I just read it to my Year 2 (grade 1) class. They loved it. It was brilliant for teaching them how to use adjectives. It really got their creative side working. Why was it banned? Is it because of the witches? Jesus always struck me (as an atheist) as the head Christian witch.

    However it is not just in the loonier corners of the US private school system that there is censorship. As a year 9 student at a London comprehensive (public school) I had a John Cooper Clark poetry book confiscated.

  184. I have to ask one question.

    Is the Bible banned too?

    The Bible contains, murder, incest and violence but I did not see it on your list…If the books you mentioned are banned then the one that contains all of the DRAMA should be too, in my opinion.

  185. Small nitpick, s/he has to get an undergraduate degree first before s/he can go to library school to work on an ALA-accredited MLS.

    There are a few LIS programs at the undergrad level, but they are increasingly rare; student would be better served studying English lit or anything else that fires his/her passions first before moving on to the MLS.

  186. Hoax. Got to be a hoax.

    No catholic school would ever ban the Divine Comedy. It’s about as Pro-Catholic as you get. After all, some of Dante’s conclusions are “It’s wrong if the church says its wrong”.

  187. Proves that once again, the most sure way to have any book read by the widest majority is to let some minority ban it.

    I like that the school has made reading though-provoking material counter-culture and rebellious. What’s next? School rules prohibiting the trading of fresh-fruit on school grounds? Making a rule to prevents kids from running?

  188. Amazing.
    I’m so proud of those who stand up!
    Those are some good books, too.
    Some schools really are insane.
    I don’t care if people don’t believe that this
    story is real, I do. It inspires me.

  189. Twilight was a horrible book. The richest, hottest, smartest boy in the school falls for the main character (who has absolutely no flaws whatsoever besides being clumsy) simply because she is the only person whose thoughts he can’t read. They’re already saying ‘I love you’ by chapter 2.

    It’s bad vampire fanfiction and nothing more.

  190. i really think it’s funny all the response this got, especially the people who only found fault in the fact that twilight was badmouthed.

    i would smack anyone who put twilight on a list with the worst of the books on that list.

    twilight is nothing more than harlequin for preteens.

    I personally think twilight should be banned, nationally, just out of the interest of the integrity of the vampire legacy.

  191. Hitchhiker’s Guide is mostly harmless but there is a part where the topic of God not existing is mentioned so the Catholics probably would censor that.

  192. My English class in the 9th Grade read Animal Farm. We discussed issues of Totalitarisms’ and Freedoms. Both may have there disadvantages and pros; however it’s not hard for me to pick a side of the fence.
    The fact is, children are capable of taking on more than we sometimes believe. If we don’t expose life how will our youth learn from the past.
    History always repeats itself and education is the key to success.

  193. I think the fact that a lot of these are banned has something to do with the age group. For example, I just graduated from a public (American) high school and I remember in junior high, books like Catcher in the Rye & similar ones (pretty much any that so much as mentioned sex) were banned, but up into high school, Perks, Hitchhiker’s Guide, Catcher in the Rye, the Evolution of Man were all most definitely available in the school library, as was the Twilight series. Now, books such as Canterbury Tales, Animal Farm, Inherit the Wind, and 1984 were all REQUIRED reading as we got up into high school (I think it wasn’t so much as censoring the books just for the hell of it, but making sure the readers were mature enough to handle the content.)

    Considering that I live in the heart of the solid south (very, very much biased, conservative “good ol’ boy” type south), I’ve gotta say, unless this was in a private school, I have a hard time believing this was true.

  194. You are fantastic!!! Just keep on going and don’t let them catch you.


  195. I went to a Private single sex catholic school, we stocked most of these books in our library. But its obvious that the story is in the US. My school was is the UK, thats in Europe for all you rednecks.

  196. This person is lying.

    They say they go to a private catholic high school. Okay fine.

    1. Bridge to Terabithia – This is read by kids in 4-5th grade. Not only is it harmless, but it wouldn’t even be necessary to ban such a book in a high school.

    2. Divine Comedy – Catholic

    3. Koran – Primary source on a major world religion. You need to have the Koran to go with the class that teaches that the Koran is bollox.

    4. Animal Farm – This is freaking anti-communist satire. There’s NO WAY this book would be banned in a conservative catholic high school.

    lies, all of it.

  197. Only half the books in the second locker were on the banned books list :-) or so I read in the original.

  198. I think it’s tragic that we have a culture in which a young person would default to fearing that reading or disseminating banned books would in some way get him in trouble!

    signed- a librarian

  199. Ah irony.
    Folks are making assumptions about said stories being banned w/o having a clue about the type of school this enterprising future librarian is at. While folks make an assumption that they could protect their and/or other children from these “dangerous” stories.
    Good for Javier for practicing social justice, civil service, freedom & the encouragement to read, creativity, organization and using rebellious behavior in a positive and educational way.
    At least Javier isn’t sleeping around, doing drugs, playing Grand Theft Auto, skipping school, getting in fights, vandalizing public/private property,running around with a gang shooting people. This young person is reading and getting other young people to read. Hot Damn!
    Javier-Future Young Adult Librarian.

  200. Warning: now that this has been publicized, every Catholic school will do locker searches looking for his/her stash!

    Better farm some out for your friends to hide!

    Note: I grew up in the 50s-60s. Our parents NEVER limited what we could read. If it was in the house, we could read it, from romances to Tarzan to lurid issues of Argosy (which did a photo spread on JFK’s autopsy once). There were no debates on “age-appropriateness” as they were happy to see us reading, period. Admittedly, this was an age before video games and iPods. Our only other choice was “go outside and play” which we also did a lot.

  201. As much as love bitching about my 13 years of Catholic schooling, and as much as it made me a confirmed agnostic, most banned books end up being banned by public school boards and city councils. It’s not just a Catholic/ Christian school thing. And one of the most banned authors in the US – Judy Blume. Most censorship cases fly under the radar of being not newsworthy, so we don’t really know about them, but it happens all the time, everywhere. is a great resource to find out where and why books were banned.

    I think this kid, or even the idea of this kid is something to support.

  202. Great job young man! FYI: librarians, especially school and public librarians, are faced with censorship requests nearly everyday. That’s why the American Library Association started Banned Books Week, to highlight all the attempted, and at times successfully, censorship efforts. Fall on your knees and worship a librarian for protecting your right to read and have access to all forms of ideas!

  203. I read most (if not all) of these banned books during high school (assigned reading at that) and I am mortified that such classics such as Candide, Animal Farm, THe Catcher in the Rye and others are considered “bad” books. I wonder what school district or parochial school this student attends.

  204. Why are any books even banned in the first place? That’s ridiculous. Especially seeing many are great literary works, and having historical context (His Dark Materials, Animal Farm)

    1. This kid is a hero! Keep it up and fight for what you believe. I think censorship is one of the highest forms of evil because it stops the free expression of ideas,and without seeing multiple perspectives how can one form their own opinion, rather than following blindly like sheep?

  205. I didn’t know there were banned books in a democracy. In my country (Portugal) we used to be in a dictatorship from 1926 until 1974 and since then I can’t think of a single book that is banned.
    If censorship is pointless (actually not, it just *points* exactly at the works that need to be read!) and quite a strange concept under a democracy, seeing some of the works in that list makes me question the news itself.

  206. This kid is very brave to be doing this and should not get in trouble..if the school finds out they should really think about banning books and just let teenagers read books they want they should follow this strategy and have a section of books just for the older juniors seniors or even somphmores and keep the younger kids away but just dont ban them…

  207. Books are banned all over the United States. Most of them are banned in public schools. Even the U.S. Government bans books from schools and libraries. If a book is banned somewhere, it really depends on who banned it. Books banned in a government are not allowed in schools or libraries run by that government. However, they cannot stop the books from being sold or read in locations not run by the government. If you want more proof about banned books, just search for “banned books” on the internet. You’ll find small parts of the list listed everywhere.

    PS Charlotte’s Web is also banned because it is harmful to the pork industry and makes kids hate pork chops. What BS.

  208. Well! Right about now I am so thankful for my West Indian upbringing.

    Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, I don’t think I ever heard the words book and banned in the same sentence. We were exposed to everything, local, regional and international authors. We were assigned books that contained obscene language, and we read aloud in some of our classes. We had teachers who would look up when we stumbled over words … some of them would say ‘go on’ … others would say ‘substitute at leisure’.

    This teen is a forward thinking person who would make it far. I agree with all the suggestions for scholarships to be started up on their behalf. Thinking like this should be allowed to blossom fully – this is someone who will contribute positively to a world already going to hell in a hand basket wearing gasoline drawers!

    Well done!!! keep it up!

  209. Reguardless of the validity of her post, bannings do happen. My freshmen year I attended a private Christian church(well, I say my freshmen year, I mean the four months before I was expelled for…controversial remarks written in my PACE book). There we were only allowed to read books from their selection(which was horrible to say the least) and would have a book we brought from home confiscated. When I went to the public high school instead of banning books they censored them with neat little black Sharpie lines through words or passages that they disapproved of(something I felt was much worse than banning the book all together), the public library wasn’t much help either(I was told at 15 that they would not order a book for a book club I was in because it had cursing in it…yes I had no life a 15 and joined a book club). However I feel the need to state that the town where I spent grades 9-11 was in southern Georgia and populated by less that 4,000 people. Luckily I moved to Houston with my Aunt and went to a becon school there. But what surprised me was that the kids I went to school with were just fine with the censorship and the bannings because they had grown up with it being the norm. I suppose what this longwinded comment is all about is that if kids are raised to be content little dim-wits then they won’t notice the travasties around them and be submissive to whomever they are told.

    …I just kind of depressed myself…

  210. I find this amazing that what we give to our Elementary equivalent students (Primary School) in Australia is on the American banned list.

    The Canterbury Tales
    The Divine Comedy
    Paradise Lost
    Interview with the Vampire
    The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
    A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
    Animal Farm
    The Witches
    Shade’s Children
    The Evolution of Man

    I read these when i was about 11 or 12, why are they banned? Will i be charged with sedition if i read these to a younger person in your country?

  211. If I had the money, I’d pay for his tuition for grad school in the most prestigious institution that offered a masters in Library Science! Good for this kid to take initiative in making up his or her own mind. I think banning books is just retarded and that if a parent doesn’t want his or her child to read a certain thing or watch a certain thing, well, then that is up to them to decide, but if they don’t read or watch it first, well, then they just need a wake up call. Good going kid!

  212. Animal Farm is banned? Why, because it makes Communism look… um, bad? Which is “a good thing”, isn’t it? And the Quran? Why, because we don’t want kids practicing (or even learning about) other religions? No, because this is America, founded on Christian principles. (The First Amendment, in case you’re wondering, is really rather outdated.)

  213. A few points:

    (1) She doesn’t say there were banned at her school.

    (2) Most absurd bannings are one-of’s that occur because a parent has complained and the school decided to remove it from the library (= ban in many people’s eyes) rather than have to deal with an angry parent. That’s why you can get so many harmless books on the list. (There’s quite a number of children’s books banned because the child fails to show the requisite ‘respect’ to the clueless adults.)

    (3) She probably *is* getting kids reading. Nothing like making something a little transgressive to make it appealing to kids. I can easily imagine kids borrowing a book from her library, not realizing it’s available in the school library. Preventing the younger grades from borrowing just helps the mystique. Of course, there might be an image problem when the cool “banned” book shows up as required reading in a later grade :-).

    (4) I can easily imagine teachers and the librarian are aware of this and are smiling behind closed doors.

  214. What kind of a school bans animal farm and caterbury tales..and evolution of ma-oh..I get it. I also understand why literacy in the states is so low. What the hell DO you read?

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