Friday, September 26, 2014

10 Books Banned by Texas Schools

Posted on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 8:35 AM

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This week is Banned Books Week, and The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has released their 18th Annual Banned Books Report.

According to the report, 10 books were banned in select Texas schools during the 2013-2014 school year. Of those 10 books, 5 were banned at Vanguard Academy Charter School (which has some serious issues with supernatural subjects).


Texas’s 10 banned books of 2013-2014 are:


1. The Taste of the Night, R. L. Stine

Recommended reading level: Age 12 and up

The sequel to Stine’s Dangerous Girls was banned at Newman Middle School of Cotulla ISD. The Taste of Night is about a teenage girl struggling with the fact that her twin sister has recently decided to live her life as an ultra-hip, blood-guzzling vampire. The novel is cited by the school as being “too mature for [their] campus level audience.” I’m inclined to believe whoever found issue with this particular novel didn’t actually read it, but saw its second chapter is titled “Can You Kill Your Own Daughter?” and went into a frenzy.



2. Bad Kitty Christmas, Nick Bruel

Recommended reading level: Grades K-3

Bad Kitty Christmas was banned by The Ehrhart School in Beaumont. The Ehrhart School, which has students from Pre-K all the way up to 8th grade, denounced Bad Kitty’s alphabet-driven holiday story because it “promotes homosexual/lesbian couples.” Bruel briefly mentions a lesbian couple in his picture book which, according to The Ehrhart School, is unfortunately grounds to toss out the whole story.



3-4. Ttfn, and L8r, g8r, Lauren Myracle

Recommended Reading Level: Grade 10 and up

Levelland Middle School of Levelland ISD chose to ban Myracle’s chatspeak novels last year. Ttfn and L8r, g8r tell the stories of three teenage girls in their junior and senior years of high school, all through instant messages. Because middle school-age children are not the target audience for these books, and because Myracle’s Internet Girls series deals with issues of sex and drugs, I don’t disagree with Levelland’s citing Ttfn and L8r, g8r as containing “profanity.”



5. Drama, Raina Telgemeier

Recommended reading level: Ages 10-14

Telgemeier’s graphic novel has been banned from Chapel Hill Elementary School in Mt Pleasant. The school has done away with Drama because of its so-called “sexual content.” I assume by “sexual content,” Chapel Hill is referring to the topic of sexual orientation which is handled quite gracefully by Telgemeier in her story about middle school-aged drama geeks. There is no actual sex in the novel, but there is kissing, and some of that kissing occurs between two males. As was the case with The Ehrhart School and Bad Kitty Christmas, the only logical solution Chapel Hill could reach when faced with issues of homosexuality was to hide it from the children!


6. Enter Three Witches: A Story of Macbeth, Caroline B. Cooney

Recommended reading level: Grade 8 and up

The last five books in the list have all been banned by The Vanguard Academy Charter School in Pharr. The secondary school has students from fourth grade up to 12th grade and is supposedly a school for “fine arts.” If that’s the case, I’m not sure why Cooney’s Enter Three Witches, a retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth centering on a teenage girl who is a ward of Lord and Lady Macbeth, has been banned by the school for “violence or horror.”


7. A Wizard of Mars, Diane Duane

Recommended reading level: Ages 10-14

Another book banned by The Vanguard Academy because of violence or horror, Duane’s 9th installment in her Young Wizard series seems horrible enough, but not because of any violence – A Wizard of Mars just seems horribly dull. It does, however, have “wizard” in the title while #6 on the list has “witches” in the title. I’m detecting a trend.


8. The Salem Witch Trial: A Reference, David K. Goss

Recommended reading level: Grade 9 and up

Goss’s The Salem Witch Trial is nothing more than an objective, informative reference book, complete with a timeline of the events of the trials, a glossary of relevant terms, and biographies of the trials’ key players. But hey, it has “witch” in the title, so The Vanguard Academy deemed it too violent and horrific for its students.


9. The Reformed Vampire Support Group, Catherine Jinks

Recommended reading level: Age 12 and up

Jinks’s novel is about a teenage vampire-girl who is in love with a teenage vampire-boy in a punk band. Both characters are trying to kick their blood-sucking habit by way of support groups. The Reformed Vampire Support Group is technically a murder-mystery, and murder is an act of violence, but The Vanguard Academy probably flagged this novel because the mention of vampires, like witches, is too horrifying.



10. Cliques, Jen Jones

Recommended reading level: Ages 8-14

This last title in the list is special, because I actually agree with The Vanguard Academy on this one. Through Cliques, Jones shamelessly perpetuates high school stereotypes. She encourages kids to choose which cliques they are best suited to, and proceeds to instruct her readers on how to navigate those cliques. Vanguard Academy cited this book too as containing “horror.” Yep, that’s accurate. No one needs to read the nausea-inducing garbage that is Cliques.

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Speaking of Banned Books Week, ACLU Texas



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