Censorship in Children’s Books
Posted by oliviaventura
This is an issue that raises a lot of backs. I want to go on record now as saying that nothing in this post is intended to offend anyone. It’s not my usual lighthearted fare, but it’s something that’s bothered me for a while.
I am anti-censorship. I have been an avid reader since I could first sound out the words, and before that I was an avid listener. I had to start buying books when the library couldn’t keep up with me.
One of my favorite childhood authors was Enid Blyton. The Wishing Chair, The Faraway Tree, The Famous Five, Malory Towers, and yes, even Noddy, were all intrinsic parts of my youth. To name a few. These books are considered classics, and were written for CHILDREN. Not adults with dirty minds (whoops, that might be a bit too strongly opinionated). We also need to keep in mind that a lot of these books—and many others—were written in a different time.
Noddy was turned into an animated TV series. In recent years, it’s been removed from TV because, apparently, Noddy and his friend Big Ears are clearly gay, and a “poor” influence on young children. Aside from the fact that homosexuality is not a “poor” anything, I challenge you to find an episode of Noddy and point out to me where/how any gay undertones appear. And whether they would have been perceived as such before our overly politically-correct society got through picking it over (also very opinionated of me).
Let’s look at another Blyton series—The Faraway Tree. The number of things that have been picked on in this series makes my teeth itch, but the worst, in my opinion, is changing the characters’ names. Jo, Fanny and Bessie are now Joe, Frannie and Beth. Why, I ask you? It’s an old-fashioned book with old-fashioned names. We won’t even mention the discussion about removing the entire character of Dick from The Famous Five.
Now, to move away from Ms. Blyton, what about the famous Huck Finn? Things in the South have definitely changed from Huck’s days, but I think it’s pretty clear that this is not a modern book. Yes, some of the language can be deemed offensive, but it is a piece of history, a memory—not necessarily a good one, but a memory nonetheless—of a different time. If parents are concerned that after reading Huck their children may be tempted to use the “N” word, then perhaps they should discuss why that word existed in the first place, and why we no longer use it. Considering the level of literacy in today’s society (oooh, another nasty opinion), by the time a child is old enough to read Huck, they’ll probably already have learned this in school.
I’m going to hop off my soapbox now, mainly because if I don’t I’ll keep going for several thousand more words. And then I might start on censorship of adult books. Um, like Shakespeare.