Friday, January 29, 2010

Diary of Anne Frank Hits Banned Book List

No, really.

This article in today's Washington Post Metro section has the details. The Culpeper County public school system is banning a newer version of The Diary of Anne Frank from the classroom. Teachers will use the older version, although a copy of the new version will be stocked in school libraries. At issue are "passages [that] detail her [Frank's] emerging sexual desires; others include unflattering descriptions of her mother and other people living together," according to the article.

The odd part about this story is that the Culpeper school district didn't follow set policies for deciding a book's fate. The ban seems to be based on one complaint and Diary was banned without the benefit of a review committee's findings, as per Culpeper policy. Director of instruction James Allen seems fine with the decision and it appears that it will stand.

I've read Diary several times, but haven't seen the newer edition, which I will have to find (maybe I could borrow it from Culpeper's library?).

One of my teachers in high school (hi Ms. Zeimet! I really enjoyed your class!) gave us a banned books assignment, which was really eye opening. The list of banned books included classics like Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird, and even my childhood favorite, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (my copy is held together with a giant rubber band because it's been read so many times). I chose Bram Stoker's Dracula, which I had never read before. Ms. Zeimet gave us the rationale for the books' banning, and I remember waiting all through my reading of Dracula to get to the explicit parts. I never found anything I would have termed as such, which shows how standards change, or maybe that I had already become jaded by 10th grade.

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