Do You Love a Banned Book?

It’s banned books week!
Some of my favorite authors have banned books and books that have attempted to be banned from schools and libraries. Katherine Paterson, Madeleine L’Engle, and Laurie Halse Anderson are three that come to mind.
Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia is my favorite novel of all-time. Some parents have concerns about it because the main character has a crush on his young female music teacher (what kid hasn’t had a crush on a teacher?) and also because a death in the book. No spoiler beyond that- just READ it. It won the Newbery Award for a reason!
Madeleine L’Engle ranks in the top five Christian fiction writers of the last century- I’m talking with the likes of Tolkien and Lewis, may they all rest in peace. Some people are scared of the book A Wrinkle in Time because it doesn’t meet their ideal of religion- that it’s too “new age”. If you want correct doctrine don’t go looking for it in a novel… but you can find universal truths in the symbolism therein.
The most recent attempts at banning were blogged about by by Laurie Halse Anderson at her site last week. Twisted, one of her novels on the chopping block, is possibly the most eye-opening novel I’ve read. As a parent it made me fear for my boys upcoming teen years. Heavy, yes. Uncomfortable at times, yes. Worth it for the learning experience, yes! It’s a novel I’ll allow my children to read once they reach a level of maturity in which the topics can be digested properly. A wonderful talking point to encourage conversation between parents and children.
Parents need to read what their children are reading. Literature can be a gateway in which scary, tough, and heavy topics can be approached in a safe, third person way. Books are tools, learn how to use them appropriately.

Literary Defeat

I’ve lost a battle with a book. Not just any book, but a classic. A standard from this past century in the literary library of the greats. One of the most referenced works I’ve come across in articles and books about the craft of writing. And I quit!
My brain was having too much trouble wrapping around a text which is out-numbered by footnotes on many of the pages. In the five to ten minutes of reading time I get here and there throughout the day it was too difficult to keep track of the train of thought an hour or two later with such detailed references. Nearly impossible to grasp the details while being pulled at by one child and questioned by another.
But I need the information from this book- which has been sitting on my shelf for nearly a decade. Plot is my weakest link and I believe the knowledge in this book will help me with plotting my stories. I finally dusted off the book two weeks ago but have accepted defeat on page twenty-six.
Instead, I cheated.
I goggled “Hero’s Journey” to find a tidy outline of the steps in the travels of a character rather than trying to trudge through The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. And I found a gem on an educational website which translated nicely to be printed out on two pages in document format. It now rests on my desk; encased in an archival page protector. The crisp page glaring like a white flag.
I’ve surrendered the fight, for now. I’ll try it again when my brain functions better.
P.S. I try to stick with nonfiction reading during the day. So now I’m rereading Herself by Madeleine L’Engle (one of my favorites). The collection of quotes is just the thing to be able to read a few pages here and there. Plus it’s uplifting and empowering. And at night I’m reading Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson.