It’s Banned Books Week this week! We are celebrating by reading banned books — you can check out some pictures of us doing exactly this over on our Facebook page.
Last year, we had the dubious privilege of having published the #2 most challenged books in the US — the Color of Earth trilogy, by Kim Dong Hwa. And we had a lot of very interesting discussions because of it, which was great for us, and hopefully enlightening for everyone all around.
The most interesting thing to come out of this discussion was that everyone tended to agree about the basics.
The Color of Earth books are a set of books about a girl, Ehwa, growing up in Korea; over the trilogy, she starts out being about seven and in the final book she’s old enough to get married, which she does. The books deal pretty frankly with sex and sexuality, especially the last one, and when you have that content in a book, it may not be the most appropriate thing for someone who’s the age that Ehwa is in the very first book to be reading.
And we all agreed about that!
What’s fascinating is that people disagreed so strongly about what to do next. Here at First Second, we’d say that we should write some copy that reflects the content of these books that goes on the flaps and try to make the girl’s age clear on the cover. And then — we leave it up to parents, teachers, and librarians who are providing books to kids to figure out who should be reading them.
Some people would rather that decision be made for those kids before they even go into a library — so that they’d never get the option to even see these charming books about Ehwa growing up in Korea.
To be fair, they wouldn’t have access to The Giver or Harry Potter or James and the Giant Peach, either — they’d clearly be missing out!
This week, check out the list of most commonly challenged books in the US, and spend some time reading one yourself.