6 Books Banned For Ridiculous Reasons

6 Books Banned For Ridiculous Reasons

From bizarre to offensive, this list will surprise you.
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Banning works of literature is nothing new. Since 1990, the American Library Association (ALA) has been monitoring formal complaints submitted. Given some of the odd ways opposition forms, they surely have their hands full.

A common reason for the effort is under the vague claim of community concerns. This is where geography comes into poetry and book cover art. Varying from state to state, trends can be identified with what might cause dismissal based on culture and voting habits. Specifics can range from profanity to disagreement with the lifestyle of the characters and personalities.

It's an interesting topic in a country quite vocal about the right of expression. These are the most shocking highlights from the sea of books only likely to grow further.

1. "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" (1967)

Funny, but also awkward. The children's book "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" by the currently deceased author, Bill Martin Jr., actually didn't do anything perceived to be wrong or offensive. It was all a naming mishap that could be avoided with the very popular world wide web or majestic Google.

While Texas State of Education board members were saving the world from scary literature with curse words in it, they targeted the very much alive philosophy professor Bill Martin Jr. at DePaul University. Another Bill Martin's book, "Ethical Marxism," is what got this whole ball rolling. Strong opposition stemmed from its critique of the capitalist structure. "Brown Bear" certainly isn't a political coffee-starter (We don't know if Brown Bear did happen to see Karl Marx off-screen, however).

2. "The Lorax" (1971)

Yup, even Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax" couldn't escape bureaucracy. It tells the story of a happy environment where peace gets disrupted upon the appearance of Onceler. He wants to make space for a factory and its customers. Driven only by money, he shows disdain for nature and the inhabitants.

Destroying the breezy flowers and lively forest, "The Lorax" does not shy from discussing pollution and the displacement of creatures. This is a topic that couldn't be more relevant today. However, opponents felt Dr. Seuss was celebrating harrowing anti-logger themes. Determined board members refused to allow the book to go on educating about the planet and warning of unchecked human expansion. This is why we can't have nice things.

3. Literally any Mexican-American book

Usually, bans are isolated to a particular book or criteria, such as foul language. But this is just an all-out barrage. Given the rich and plentiful amount of published ethnic books, to name each target would be quite long. There is a spiritual and collective experience with those pages. Starting with Tucson, the Mexican-American Studies curriculum in Arizona schools caused a stir with politicians. A 2010 power trip via state-wide ban was declared on any ethnic-based learning. Any infrastructure in discordance would lose state funding.

Those behind it claimed it was to make an inclusive environment. However, inclusive learning should include an ethnic and multicultural approach. Blending, not excluding, is one way. Especially given the power dynamic, since these writers are already underrepresented as it is. Given the region's large Mexican-American population, students are eager to understand all of their roots.

It only took one glance for protesters to most definitely pour out with their paper signs galore. Challenges were made questioning its constitutionality. On the grounds of 1st and 14th Amendments, the successful programs were revived. This is on the extreme end and shows just how far some will go to erase an identity. How can anyone imagine colleges without ethnic classes? A liberal arts degree without core general ed classes usually outside your major?

4. "The Diary of a Young Girl" (1947)

This ban is particularly troubling. With a considerable amount of evidence of the Holocaust destroyed, personal accounts are a crucial source to understand what happened within those concentration camps. History has always been this way, from oral stories to scriptures carved in walls. Anne Franke's diary has served as an accurate relic of immense value and is read throughout the world.

One reason for opposition was its direct references to gay people. The Holocaust did not only target and affect Jewish people. Victims were captured and tortured for their sexuality too. Trying to ignore an identity does not cease it from existing. But that has not stopped history, all the way from the Middle Ages to the contemporary chairman, from trying. This plays a role in reaffirming hidden histories the LGBTQIA community already suffer from in the biased, hegemonic, grand narrative of the US.

Others took an indiscriminate route, citing its melancholy nature. History is known for being quite sad, especially when it comes to genocide. Rather than hide or water-down harrowing events and life under Nazi oppression, people should learn exactly what occurred so it truly never happens again. Officials should not cherry pick history or accounts because of sensitivity. Education needs to be honest and inclusive. Anything else and it's unfair to the victims and the public itself.

5. "Where The Wild Things Are" (1963)

This children's book is about a boy finding peace among gentle creatures, written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Classic and beloved, its popularity led to a 2009 film adaptation. Movie directors and producers' hearts were won over, but not everyone's. Strong disapproval stems from a scene where the child Max is sent to bed without eating dinner. Understandably, educators would disapprove of this applied to real life. But their classroom students – those actually reading the book – should not be the ones unable to explore its imagery and Max's adventures when on a full stomach.

6. The "Twilight" Series (2005-2008)

This book series has generated intense emotions (and many films that could've been condensed if box offices weren't so money-hungry). The fans love it and the haters hate it. Some find Stephanie Meyer's fantasy vampire love story to be an enjoying escape. On the direct opposite side, others may very well enjoy knowing this book was banned somewhere, particularly in Australia. That country is normally relaxed when it comes to this topic, whereas Americans are banning books left and right.

What pushed one Australian librarian's buttons too far was the fear that readers wouldn't be able to differentiate it from non-fiction. If people can't do that, "Twilight" surely isn't the reason. The first clue might be that Edward is clearly defined as a vampire doing all kinds of vampire stuff. This is repeated throughout the four books, in case someone happens to miss the first 100 instances.

Cover Image Credit: Dom J / Pexels

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The Key To Ending Your First Draft Blues

Or at least getting through the next chapter with your hair intact
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Ah, the first draft. We’ve all been there as writers. The day we decide to turn a blank word document into a 70,000 word (or more) masterpiece. Or, at least, that’s always the aim. Often as first-time writers, we go into the experience blind, learning as we go, and never really knowing whether what we’re doing is right or wrong.

It can be frustrating at times, as most first drafts are a test of sanity. As somebody who had written ten first draft books (nearing eleven) in six years, I have had my fair share of ups and downs when it comes to first drafts.

My first book ever took me four years just to write it, I started at the age of sixteen and finished by the time I was twenty. A year later I had written another. I then wrote one in thirty days, and nowadays I write about three to four books a year.

My point is, there is no science to writing. It is all about learning how to do it, and finding the methods that suit you best. I just wish I could have had someone to tell me all of that when I started.

With that in mind, here are my five pieces of advice on how to write your first draft:

#5 Embrace the Terribleness

The first draft is always the worst version of any story. The sooner you accept it, the easier it is to move forward with your work. So you misspell a few words so bad that even Word can't help you. That shouldn't stop you from going with the flow. Your dialogue will feel hammier than a "Star Wars" film, but you'll clean it up the second time around. You're not expected to create a masterpiece on the first go, so just enjoy the ride.

#4 Suffer for your Art

Writing can be hard. I've said it enough times already, but it's true. You have to be prepared to suffer for it. The reason my first book took four years to write was because I didn't commit to it. The reason I wrote 80,000 words in thirty days was because I committed myself to write at least 1,000 words a day. Now I average 3,000 daily. Is it painful to force 3,000 words to the page every day? Yes, but that's what you have to do to get the draft finished.

#3 Take your Time

Now I know this goes against what I just said, but it's important that you go at the pace you want to. I was happier writing 1,000 words a day, but I was eighteen then. At twenty-three, I'll never get everything done going at 1,000 words a day. Commit yourself to writing every day, even if its only 200 words. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. You'll get to the finishing line quicker if you jog a steady pace rather than adopting a sprint and rest mentality.

#2 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Yes, it's important to remember what colour your character's hair is, which one is taller, and what weapon they are carrying. Although with that said, it is important to keep going forward. In my editing, I go over everything with a fine comb, often with a character profile at my side. Don't get bogged down giving every little detail the first time around, you'll have time for that later. The hardest thing is getting it down the first time.

#1 Keep the Story Going at All Costs

This kind of goes without saying, but it is by far the most important step for me. You have to keep moving forward. It doesn't matter if you have to use the biggest Deus ex machina to get your plot going again, you can always edit it away in the re-draft. I use a technique called automatic writing, which means that I don't plan every detail of a chapter. I simply write it as I go. This allows me to give my characters natural reactions as events often come as a surprise to me too.

Obviously it is good to have a rough idea of what is meant to happen, but as long as you can get your characters from A to B, then you are half way there. The other half will be polishing it to the point you can see your reflection.

Good luck, and happy writing.

Cover Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Writer%27s_Block_I.jpg

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4 Steps To Writing a Haiku

It's Fun I Promise
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You've probably had to write a haiku for English sometime in your school career. You most likely found it boring, or difficult, or just plain stupid. I am going to try and show you a more fun way to write a haiku.

1. The Basics: What You Should Know

In case you don't know, a haiku is a Japanese poem that is only three lines long. It is usually taught that the syllables in each line should go 5-7-5. But really, as long as there are 17 syllables or less in the three lines, it's a haiku.

2. Write to Get a Reaction

When you write a haiku, you are aiming to get one of three reactions: Aaaahhh, aha!, or ha ha! For example...

Aaahhh: Laying in bed/dog next to me under blanket/my furry heater

Aha!: Life is too short to love people/who do not deserve/your whole heart

Ha ha!: I'm on the toilet/and my stomach drops/the roll is empty

3. Create an Image

In your writing, you want to create a new image in your readers mind with each line. Take my first haiku for example. I first talk about laying in bed. Then, I say there is a dog next to me under the blanket, so you picture a lump under the covers. In my last line, I call him a furry heater so you imagine a heater covered in fur. The image you create is more important than the syllables.

4. Performing

Lastly, you need to think about performing your haiku. As always, when you're speaking in front of a room of people, you need to project so the whole room can hear you and you need to make eye contact. Another thing to remember is the tone of your voice while you are saying your poem. Dramatic pauses can keep people on the edge of their seat, waiting for what you're going to say next. You also have to remember to be confident! And if you're not confident, fake it till you make it!

Cover Image Credit: Imgur

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