Monday, September 26, 2011

Forbidding a Secret Place

We talked about The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, in a previous posting. There have been attempts to ban this book in schools and libraries. To celebrate ALA Banned Books Week, you might want to watch our book trailer to see if you would like to read this book.

Why have some grown-ups tried to remove The Secret Garden from libraries and schools?  They argue that the book is too depressing for children ages 9-12, because it talks about death, sadness, and loneliness.  But most kids have experienced the death of an elderly relative by the time they are reaching the upper elementary school grades, so this subject is hardly outside their personal experiences.  The book is mostly about finding new friends and a special place where they can bring their secret garden back to life, and, at the same time, bring happiness back to their lives.  The book's message is overwhelmingly positive.

Other adults who want to censor The Secret Garden criticize the author's portrayal of the wealthy uncle to whom Mary Lennox is sent after her parents died in India.  Apparently, the grouchy old man upsets these grown-ups, because they think it unfairly portrays how the rich care for their kin.  But the uncle has his own sorrows, and he, too, must find his way back to happiness, and Mary and her friends will help him.  Again, readers feel good about how these people cope with their heartbreak and learn to live full lives again.

The best way to decide whether or not you should read a book is to give it a try.  If, after reading 30 or 40 pages, you decide that the book isn't for you, then return it to your favorite library, wish it well, and send it along its way to the next reader.  However, you may find yourself engrossed in the book, and that is always worthwhile.

Your Roving Reporter On The Go,

Cauli Le Chat

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