Have you had a gander at the American Library Associations “The Hundred Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000?” Number seven on the list is the Harry Potter series. As I recall, Rowling’s latest book is some 800 pages and the kids are lining up at the library to check it out. Anyone who can inspire children to read an 800-page book deserves not only to be rich, but to be put at the top of the list for sainthood. Then there is the perennial favorite, Julie of the Wolves, a fantastic book by Jean Craighead George. Alas, it is the story of a young girl having her first period — good lord, we can’t have that in the library — it should be burned! I read this book to many 5th grade classes and despite of the subject matter, the boys were as spellbound as were the girls — and nary a snicker was ever heard. It was a great book.

I can’t believe how many times Roald Dahl made the list. I didn’t get to read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory very often as the third grade teachers always beat me to it, but, James and the Giant Peach was all mine and later, Danny Champion of the World. I think this was perhaps Dahl’s finest book, but heavens, we can’t read it to the little children. This is a book about a father who made a habit of filching pheasants from a repulsive rich man’s estate — never mind that it was a book about a loving and devoted father. That doesn’t matter — burn it I say.

If you are looking for some good books for your children, the challenged book list would be a good place to start. There are some wonderful books there — unless, of course you believe Judy Blume is a witch. If that is the case, I would suggest that you gather your children to a closet, pass out ear plugs, turn out the light and shut the door. Better that than to burden the little ones with your bent, twisted predilections.

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