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  • --Emily Dickinson

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September 29, 2005



I too read banned books. I remember when Grandma and Dad created a near civil war in our household when she discovered me reading The Catcher in the Rye in junior high. As it turns out, she was on a committee to ban the book in schools during the fifties. I found myself at the center of a battle between a grandmother who was convinced I was being exposed to illicit materials and thus a loss of innocence and my father who was so adamant that I have access to such books (ideas) that he nearly forced me to read the book! All I remember thinking is what's the big deal? I wasn't even very interested in the book until all hell broke loose.

Which goes to show that books, ideas and yes, even food, can take on new meaning when under such intense scrutiny. While growing up sugar was the banned item. I remember the allure and excitement of finding Mom's hidden Coke bottles and approaching sucrose induced nirvana. And the sugar cereal bans of childhood may have contributed to my overdosing on them in college (as students my friends and I found a way to sneak into the kitchens and take boxes of Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms and Cap'n Crunch and snack on them while studying). Now I can't even look at them without feeling the nauseous effects of food aversion.

Only now as an adult am I recognizing the extent of my sweet tooth and the damage it has caused my own body. I find it difficult to limit my intake and portions but at the same time I know I must insist on limiting it in my household. But do I ban it completely? My children are now negotiating my split perspective on the issue and I sincerely hope they'll be more successful than I.

I now see how Dad's wisdom in exposure to ideas followed with non-judgmental discussion is critical to the development of healthy living. Whether its sexuality and independence as seen in The Catcher and the Rye, or the consumption of potentially harmful food and drink, it is important that we see how these things fit into our lives and society. It is important that we make conscious decisions about them before we fall prey to the problems of over-indulgence.

Angie, for a seemingly non-topical entry I appreciate your bringing up banned books. It has certainly been thought provoking!


I also read a banned ( or proposed banned ) book this past year. "The Giver" by
Lois Lowry. I heard some controversy on the radio with a suburban Kansas City group of parents trying to inflict their narrow views upon the larger group. I remembered reading this very book with my daughter. So decided to reread and try to decipher why it seems to be so offensive to some. To date I can not figure it out.
A Newbery Medal Book award winner,
An ALA Notable Children's Book and
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Even upon the second reading I found no evil or subversive internt by the author. And I might add actually quite thought provoking.


Hi Kristin--

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. The issue does get more complicated, I think, when you are making decisions (about books or food) for your own children. Ideally, as parent, you are supposed to model good eating habits and gradually let children make their own decision as they mature and become capapble of doing so. Of course, that's the ideal...

But to what extent do you have the right to censor someone else's reading (or eating) choices. Remember Prohibition? Should parents get together and ban junk food and soda vending machines in schools? There are a lot of conflicting interests at work here.

Hi Nancy--

It's great to hear from you.

For a great essay on banned books, including Lowry's, see the following link:

In a Boston Globe interview, Lowry said: "I just always wish the parents would read the book in full before they challenge it," she told the Globe's Louise Kennedy. "I think fiction, in order to say anything, has to startle and upset you at some point. To be a book that affects you, it has to make you think."


Very cool how you tied the banned book issue into food! I definitely don't support censorship. I can't understand why some people care what other people do with their lives, minds, etc. as long as they aren't hurting other people!


Hi Cousins and Sisters, I too read "The Giver" this year when I read about the possible ban. Actually I suggested Brian reread it, and we both found it to be a great read with lots of "food"-for-thought. :-) I agree as parents we should be setting good snack, meal examples for our children, with things like soda pop, a special treat on occasion. But I actually Do think the public schools should stop the soda pop contracts and be setting better examples of drink choices.

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