Oh Captain, my….Captain Underpants?

This week is Banned Book Week, and in schools all over the country, both teachers and students are celebrating by reading these books, some of which are wonderful classics of literature, past Newberry winners, etc. It’s a great week for reading and rebelling, and libraries all over the place are probably working just a little extra, which is wonderful in this age of “there’s an app for that.”

However, to my dismay, as I scan my Facebook news feed, one book and book cover seems to dominate the conversation: Captain Underpants. This is a book/graphic book series about a superhero kid who wears, well, underpants and a cape.

Don’t get me wrong here; I have two kids, and both of them laughed over Captain Underpants, each of them purchasing more than one installment at annual book fairs. And yes, I think banning a light hearted cartoon book about an underwear-wearing superhero is just…sad. And embarrassing. And I would like to express a resounding “lighten up” to those who had nothing better to do than to wring their hands over this book series.

However…

Is this really the “poster child” we want for our stand against censorship? I mean, here are a few other books that have been banned over the past couple of decades:

Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl

The Chocolate War

Harriet the Spy

A Light in the Attic

Bridge to Terebithia

Where the Wild Things Are

Huckleberry Finn

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Grapes of Wrath

Book list found at: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/banned-kids-books.html

And let’s not forget the uproar over Harry Potter (a book that got more children reading again than any book in recent history); an uproar that was fueled by a satircal humor article in The Onion. The Onion is not real, people. I remember a dear friend of mine worrying over whether eating a cupcake with a Harry Potter decoration on top might somehow harm her…..

Banning books is not only unAmerican, in my opinion, it’s also just about the surest way to make kids WANT to read them. In our free market society, we have an option for those who find a book inappropirate. It’s called:

Just don’t buy it.

However, in the interests of great literature and English professors everywhere, let’s use a better example of life changing classics as our banner than a tighty-whitie wearing cartoon with a cape next year. This English major will be grateful.