Common Ground: Books give us a glimpse into others _lowres


The yards of yellow police tape wrapped around a stack of popular books and movie titles at one library might have some a little confused.

Iberville Parish librarian Elizabeth Haynes is giving readers a chance to celebrate the freedom to read once-censored books at the Plaquemine library’s Banned Book Read-out on Sept. 25.

If you have read or watched “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” or “The Wizard of Oz,” then you’ve read banned or nearly-banned material, Haynes said.

“People are outraged that the books are banned,” Haynes said. “Often, however, a banned book raises awareness about a particular book. It piques people’s interest.” She said none of the books are banned in Iberville schools or libraries.

So why would a book about a boy and a chocolate factory be on the banned list? “Disrespect for elders,” said Haynes.

Reasons for banning or challenging other books vary, said Beth Cardinal, president of Friends of the Iberville Public Libraries. Challenging a book is an attempt to remove or restrict it from public libraries and schools.

“Most books in the United States are not banned, but challenged,” Cardinal said.

For example, the movie and book “The Giver,” now in theaters, is on my daughter’s seventh-grade reading list. It is also on the challenged list, with claims that it is unsuitable for children.

The book’s theme about a boy living in a seemingly utopian world, free from pain, sickness, war or even choice changes when the boy becomes the keeper of memories and learns about war, pain and emotions.

Cardinal said it is important through books to allow children to understand how other people think.

“Freedom of speech was very important to our forefathers,” Cardinal said. “A lot of these books are banned because people are disagreeing with religion or lack of religion in a book.”

Books also may be banned or challenged for offensive language or violence, sexual abuse, trauma and racism.

“If a child reads about suicide in a classroom situation and it is openly discussed, then that might help the child gain a better understanding,” Cardinal said.

“Charlotte’s Web” and even “Winnie the Pooh” are on the challenged list, she noted, because some considered it blasphemous for animals to speak.

Books, whether challenged, banned or not, are necessary.

“The more you know about how other people think, the easier it is to get along,” Cardinal said. “I’d rather read about someone else’s religion than make a snap judgement. When you read about ancient religions and belief systems, it makes you understand how they believe what they do.”

I agree.

Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at