Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oregon Banned Book Week continues: “How Not to Dry the Dishes”

(Update: Forgot the damned button again. Still working off a new netbook that hasn't got all the shortcuts wired in like the other machine. Hoping that the "red button" line below makes sense now.)

It's Wednesday of OBBW, brought to you by those fine people at Oregon ACLU and the Oregon Library Association.

Stop by your local public library and pick up an “I read banned books” button. Last year, they distributed buttons to 279 libraries and 10 bookstores in 32 Oregon counties. (Their buttons are bright, festive yellow, rather than red.)

Today's feature is The Whoop, reciting “How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes,” from Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic, his 1981 collection of poems for children.

If you're reading this in FB Notes, you'll need to click View Original Post to see the video.

Yes, indeed. This book has been challenged and censored for a generation across America, on the grounds that it “encourages messiness and disobedience.” Seriously. How little faith do you have to have in your own children, and the upbringing you've given them, to think that this short poem is going to turn them into little anarchists? What must these parents think of harm lurking between the covers of "The Cat in the Hat?"

(Background story: When I was a kid my mom was concerned that I read “Tales of the Bizarro World,” a late-Silver Age recurring feature in Superman comics. These imperfect duplicates of Superman used bad grammar and did things backwards, and – what parents have worried about since the glaciers receded – she was afraid that I would begin entering rooms backwards and announcing “Goodbye!” to everyone. Yes, it really was that stupid. Her concern persisted for some time, until my dentist mentioned to her that I knew x-rays couldn't penetrate lead. After that, she mellowed; after all, if it impressed my dentist . . . See, when it comes to reading material you don't like, you have to take the good with the bad.)

Remember: If you're reading a banned book, or feel like reading a banned book, or just don't want to be told that you can't read a banned book, thank a librarian. Quietly.

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