Welcome to this month’s Banned Books feature where we discuss a book that’s been challenged!
Jess Aarons’ greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He’s been practicing all summer and can’t wait to see his classmates’ faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys’ side and outruns everyone.
That’s not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits.
First published: 1977
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2003. Source
Chosen by: Beth
Reasons: occult/Satanism, offensive language
Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?
BETH: I read this book wondering why on earth it had been banned in the first place then had to look twice at the reasons stated above. Occult/Satanism?! For goodness sake, it’s two children making up their own magical world and playing in it! If that’s worshipping the Devil, surely all children nowadays who play make believe are guilty of this? I also can’t remember any incidence of offensive language in the book but perhaps I missed something? This book was published in the seventies so it was a while ago and individual sensitivities may have been different… but for those reasons above it is absolutely ridiculous that this book should have been challenged/banned.
CHRISSI: This is another one of those books when I wonder why it’s been banned or challenged. I understand that it is a heavy going subject, but if we shelter children/young children from these issues that could be highly educative then I think it is a great shame. I understand it was published in the 70s, but the content of the book has always been around!
How about now?
BETH: Even more so now I don’t believe that this book should be challenged. When reading it and getting to the point where Jess has to deal with death I thought was dealt with beautifully by the author and think it’s probably an important book for children to read so that they can learn about the inevitable process of life and that unfortunately, at one time or another, we all must deal with death – if that’s the passing of a loved one or even a family pet.
CHRISSI: I think this book should be read! As I mentioned before, it’s highly educative. As Beth mentions every person at some point goes through these issues and it’s important that they are sensitively dealt with which I felt was the case with this book.
What did you think of this book?
BETH: I was pleasantly surprised by this book! I think the important thing for me is that I didn’t know the story so wasn’t expecting the sadness and bitter sweetness of it. Jess was a lovely character although I found his teenage crush on his teacher a bit awkward to read if I’m totally honest. I completely fell in love with the world, Terabithia that was created by Jess and Leslie and it reminded me of those innocent childhood times in my own past when make believe was an important part of my life and often offered an escape from “real life.”
CHRISSI: I wasn’t really aware of this book before Beth picked it for our challenge. I thought it was a very intriguing read. I’m not sure that it’s a book that I would read again, as I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I wanted to. It’s also a book that’s rather heavy going and sad, but it’s certainly not a book that should be challenged in my eyes!
Would you recommend it?
BETH: But of course!