Sunday, January 01, 2012
After seeing the trailer for the upcoming animated movie THE LORAX, I recently purchased a copy of the Dr. Suess book. I really enjoyed the story. I found some similarities between the book and other Dr. Suess tales (does anyone else think the Once-ler's arms look identical to The Grinch?). However, I was surprised to discover that posted all over the Internet are these claims (and on some fairly reputable sites in some cases) that THE LORAX is a book that was banned because it made the logging industry look bad. Well, I've done some research and this claim isn't true. THE LORAX has never been banned by any school in the United States. In 1989 the Laytonville Unified School District in Laytonville, California did receive a request to have the book downgraded from mandatory on the school's reading reading list to optional, but the request was denied and the book remained on the list. That's it. That's the only challenge to the book on record. Beyond that, THE LORAX has never been banned.
So why is it that when you search of THE LORAX or you read reviews for the book, people talk about it being banned because of the negative portrayal it gives of the logging industry? The answer is because of Banned Books Week. THE LORAX is a book that is often included on the list of "Banned Books". However, like many of the books on the list, the book has never been banned. The books listed each year on the "Banned Book List" (sponsored by the American Library Association) aren't really books that have been banned, but they are a list of books that have been "challenged" or are controversial. Very few of the books on the list have ever actually been banned.
I'm all for literacy and literary freedom. I used to be supportive of Banned Book Week. However, I've now discovered that it is a farce and it's something I won't be supporting in the future.