Wednesday, November 15, 2006

why this bothers me

Locally, there has been a recent attempt to ban the book So Far from the Bamboo Grove. One of the reasons is because the "book is one-sided, representing Koreans as the wrongdoers when it was the Japanese who occupied Korea."

Now, I find this argument ridiculous. First of all, fiction books in general show one story and viewpoint--the narrator's. To fault the book for this is completely unjust. And even more so since this book blurs that line of fact and fiction (like I do in Year of the Dog, which is probably why this struck such a chord), as it is based on the author's personal experiences. Is one asking her to change her memories?

So, because the book only portrays one side of the story the book might be banned--therefore erasing that part of history for the students, as if it never existed. Doesn't it make much more sense to have the students read another book as well, one that tells the other side of the story? Or at least have a parent or an adult familiar with that time period to explain the intricacies of the other side?

This is similiar to how I feel about Little House on the Prairie where Ma "hates Indians." Of course that prejudice is repugnant, but to edit those lines out erases the tension that was really there. To ignore or pretend it didn't exist is worse. It's important to let kids read it, and then discuss with them why Ma felt the way she did and how ignorant it was.

In my opinion, instead spending our time banning books, we should use it to encourage responsible reading. What do you think?


Meghan McCarthy said...

WHAT???? I *LOVED* that book as a kid! It's an amazing book that I need to reread. What the hell is wrong with people? Seriously.

America is supposed to = freedom of expression. So much for that. Let’s just publish books that are perfectly SAFE and POLITICALLY CORRECT. What would our society be like then? Life without opinions and full of sameness is a scary thought. Hmmm… I sense a YA novel somewhere. No one steal it! It’s my idea! It's mine!


Bkbuds said...

James Madison -- y'know, author of the Bill of Rights, yadda yadda - had this to say:

"Some degree of abuse is inherent in the proper use of everything, and in no instance is this more true than in that of the press."

He likened censorship to pruning a rose bush. If you prune all the branches with thorns, you end up injuring "those yielding the proper fruit."

I know, I'm such an egghead.

Stephanie Ford said...

That's so sad. So Far From the Bamboo Grove is the perfect book to pair with Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi or When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park precisely because it shows a Japanese point of view while the others show Korean points of view. The opposite points of view help kids understand how war can seem totally different depending on what side you are on.

Now are they going to try to ban When my Name Was Keoko and The Year of Impossible Goodbyes too? It's only fair since they also have limited points of view!