Banned Books Week began officially yesterday, Sept. 21. Time to start celebrating the liberty to read!
Today’s article looks at books of a different media that are banned or challenged because their content is not thought to be appropriate for classrooms.
That’s right- comic books.
The comic book is a popular type of literary media, but rarely thought fit for a classroom. Many adults still believe that comic books have nothing intellectual to offer, that their stories are essentially meaningless and that they contain obscene amounts of violence. However, the people who are so persistent in trying to ban comic books are forgetting two things: A) If they actually bothered to read a comic book, they would understand that the stories can actually be pretty complex, and B) That such materials can be crucial for some students who don’t take to reading traditional books.
Take, for example, students who still struggle with the English language, like transfer students or students with learning disorders. Isn’t it so much better for the student if they were exposed to a medium of book that has pictures as well as words? Why force them into reading traditional books all the time when A) They’re less likely to get as much out of them and B) Forcing traditional books with walls of text might intimidate them enough so that they never want to pick up another book again?
This isn’t to say there aren’t some comic books to be read purely for enjoyment, but the fact that cartoons and comics are still seen as valueless in terms of storytelling and educating is something that needs to change.
There are two comic books that have a relevant place in the classroom. One, titled “Persopolis” and the other titled “American Born Chinese.”
“Persopolis” was banned in Murphy, Oregon when a parent decided he was too offended by the ideas brought up in the book (SOURCE) and demanded the book be taken out of libraries and schools.
“American Born Chinese” has not yet been banned or challenged.
“Persopolis” is an autobiography of a woman named Marajane Satrapi who grows up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Throughout her story, Satrapi touches on issues that affected her childhood such as sexism:
And her views on feminism:
Credit for the photos goes to Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnoud.
There is so much a student can learn from Satrapi’s story, especially considering the fact that it’s told from a female perspective. It gives incredible insight to, not only the Islamic Revolution in Iran, but how it affected a young girl growing up in that time.
“American Born Chinese,” by Gene Luen Yang is a collection of three different stories.
The first is based on a popular Chinese legend, called The Monkey King, or Sun Wukong. The second story is about a child named Jin Wang who is the son of second-generation immigrants living in a Californian suburb after living in Chinatown. Jin Wang’s story provides a link between all three stories in the book, tying them all together in the end. The last story in “American Born Chinese” looks at a white, American boy named Danny who stresses over his Chinese cousin who visits every year. Danny dreads “Chin-Kee” (a play on the racial word “chinky”) coming to visit because he is the sum of how the Chinese are racially stereotyped by many Americans.
All three stories go through their own sets of dilemmas, but all of the characters go through a tremendous transformation so that by the end of their “battles,” they are not only victorious, but have a deeper understanding of themselves and their culture as well.
Through each book, the reader learns a tremendous amount of culture as well as self-discovery and the importance of truly knowing one’s strength. It also allows readers to have a different perspective of the world they live in, and isn’t that one of the best purposes of a book? To remind readers that the world is full of different types of people who have their own traditions and ways of living, and that these are things that should be educated and valued?
Just because a person is offended by a book does not give them the right to take it away from anyone else.
For more information on banned books, check out this website.
For more information on banned comic books, click here.
Check out this blog to find out more about “Persepolis.”
And this article to learn more about “American Born Chinese.”