Banned Books Week: Cassie-la Guides You Through “The Giver Quartet” by Lois Lowry

The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger and Son (Advanced Reader Copy) by Lois Lowry
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Genre: Fiction, childrens, dystopia, fantasy, my childhood is now complete
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Summary: In the future, a young boy named Jonas is given a prominent position in his community as the Receiver of memories… Until he finds out the dark secrets they base their lives around and he escapes with a baby named Gabriel. His lives cross over with the heroes and heroines in the other three books in the quartet, from maimed Kira who has a skill for sewing, Mattie who wants nothing more than to be named Messenger, and Claire, Gabriel’s Birthmother in this classic dystopian series that has finally reached its conclusion.

If you first read and encountered The Giver in Middle School (like most American students… Or Canadians and Australians according to the internet), then chances are you have been waiting your whole childhood to find out what happened to baby Gabriel and Jonas. Or if like me you were under the assumption that the ending hinted Jonas and Gabriel entered a symbolic heaven after freezing to death you’re probably incredibly confused that they’re alive enough to be in three other books. It may have taken 19 years, but you will finally have most of your questions answered in this gripping conclusion to one of my favorite dystopian novels. Let the rejoicing commence!

The Giver is the book that started it all in 1993, drawing ire because of its depictions of infanticide and references to sexual connotations called Stirrings. Oh noes! Some even argue it promotes suicide and claims that it has “occult themes”, i.e. Jonas’ ability to see color in the colorless community is witchcraft and was banned in 2001. This is why you can’t have nice things Missouri.

WARNING: Here be spoilers if you’re 19 years behind and have yet to read The Giver. Also, Tarrlok is a bloodbender. (ERMAHGERD TERLERKS A BLERDBERNDER.)

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Books that Shaped My Childhood: Cassie-la’s Challenged Children’s Books

Yesterday, the lovely Kelly explained how books get banned, who they get banned by, and why. She also explored the inherit problem with censorship: it limits freedom and promotes ignorance. You will be hearing a lot of the word promote in the following paragraphs. It’s a word that people challenging books love to bandy about. Warning: this post does not promote idiocy.

Since the logistics and purpose of Banned Books Week has already been explained, I am going to explore specific books that have been challenged in the United States (that is books that, parents/teachers/schools tried to or are trying to ban).

When I first started my research I came across so many books I loved and wanted to talk about that just would not fit into the scope of a single post, so I decided to write this list with a focus on books that I enjoyed and read in Elementary and Middle School. It’s not so much strict children’s books- there are a lot of YA books in here as well, but books I read as a child. Sadly, I did not read His Dark Materials until my senior year of High School so it is not on this list. =( If it was, however, no doubt I would discuss how religious nuts enjoy challenging and banning books for differing beliefs. Oh Catholicism, you nut.

Word of warning before continuing, for the book cover thumbnails  I used all the covers I knew and loved in the 90’s. You have been warned.

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F#@% Censorship: Kelly Loves Banned Books Week

With the official advent of autumn, it’s time to break out the boots, buy criminally-overpriced lattes that taste vaguely of pumpkin, and unabashedly blast AFI’s “Fall Children” EP at all hours. It’s also Banned Books Week!

Each year, the American Library Association (ALA), along with a host of other organizations, sponsors Banned Books Week. The purpose is to bring to light the books that are either challenged or banned in institutions across the country. Through the collection and presentation of data, the ALA shows us the alarming threat to intellectual freedom that occurs each year.

But how does banning books start? The ALA very kindly states it usually begins with “the best intentions – to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information.” It’s one thing to make a decision to not let your child read a book – for whatever reason, it’s your kid. But when people start deciding what’s best for everyone based on their ideals and beliefs and then work to impose it – that’s censorship. First Amendment rights, be damned!

And here’s the thing that drives me bonkers – most challenges must be made by complete fucking morons.

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