Banned Books Week
by Jane Mailander (and others as noted), used with permission
I’m Charlotte A. Cavatica, a member of the banned
I saved my pig-friend Wilbur from the sausage-maker’s hand
But I had 500 spiderlets without a wedding band
So one school’s PTA made sure that CHARLOTTE’S WEB was banned!
(One school’s PTA made sure that CHARLOTTE’S WEB was banned!)
I’m Oz the Great and Terrible, a member of the banned
A little girl from Kansas travelled through my magic land
The witches of the North and South are good and lend a hand
But that’s against Leviticus, so Baum’s away! I’m banned.
(That’s against Leviticus, so Baum’s away! He’s banned!)
My name is Judy Blume, and I’m a member of the banned.
My fan mail comes in tons from kids who say I understand
The books I write for teenagers are never safe or bland
So frightened angry parents do their best to have me banned!
(Frightened angry parents do their best to have her banned!) (*verse by Roberta Rogow)
My name is Harry Potter, I’m a member of the banned
They say that I’m Satanic ’cause I’ve got a wand in hand
They’re just a bunch of Muggles, they’ll never understand
The only magic I can make is fiction that is grand!
(The only magic he can make is fiction that is grand!) (*verse by Lee Gold)
My name is Anna Frank, and I’m a member of the banned
I had to hide in secret from the Fuhrer’s harsh command
But my diary’s a “downer,” and my talk of sex is cand-
Id, so THE DIARY OF ANNA FRANK is often banned!
(So THE DIARY OF ANNA FRANK is often banned!)
My name is Winston Smith, and I’m a member of the banned
Rewriting history each day by government command
Too many countries think rebooting people would be grand
So that’s why 1984 is added to the banned.
(That’s why 1984 is added to the banned!) (*verse by Bill Laubenheimer)
We are the Brothers Grimm, and we are members of the banned
We went collecting fairy tales around the Fatherland
But our ogres are too hideous and our heroines too bland
So critics on the right AND left insist that we be banned!
(Critics on the right and left insist that they be banned!) (*verse by Roberta Rogow)
I’m Huckleberry Finn, and I’m the leader of the banned
A target for the censor since the century began
It’s never the same reason; it’s at different folks’ demand
The river ain’t my problem — it’s the fear of being banned!
(The river ain’t his problem — it’s the fear of being banned!)
(Everyone sing together on last verse)
It’s the last week of September, when we honor all the banned–
The books that disappear from shelves and schools like shifting sand.
So fight them in the school boards, watch your own well-meaning hand
For no books are as dangerous as the folks who get them banned!
No books are as dangerous as the folks who get them banned!
Afterword: Here are some additional verses we did not include in the recording for time’s sake, but you go ahead and sing them if you like. I am not sure of the authorship of all of these; I assume they are by Jane but if you know otherwise please contact Tim@GriffinEd.org so I can give proper credit.
Oh, my name is Holden Caulfield, I’m a member of the banned
An angry adolescent in a city grim and grand
I use four-letter words that any kid can understand
So JD’s masterwork’s a master target to be banned!
My name is Robin Hood, and I have got a merry band
The tales of our adventures are acclaimed in every land
But I rob the rich to feed the poor — a blatant Commie plan
So one girl’s mother told her daughter’s school I should be banned!
THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES is a member of the banned
Though scientists agree that Darwin’s view of life is grand
“It contradicts the Bible!” and “Biologists are damned!”
So say the fundamentalists who fight to keep it banned. (*verse by Janet Sherman)
My name is John, Lord Greystoke, I’m a member of the banned
I wed my Jane in private ceremony in England
But folks who haven’t read the book believe our love is scand-
Alous, and that’s why they insist that TARZAN OF THE APES be banned! (*verse by Tom Hubbard)
I’m a lawyer name of Atticus, a member of the banned
My Southern town despised me for defending a black man
I showed their racist hearts – but my little girl said “Damn,”
That’s why they say the tale TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD was banned!
My name is little Tango, I’m a member of the banned
My picture book is dangerous, they say, in children’s hands
My daddies hatched my borrowed egg, their family to expand
And why our love is bad this penguin does not understand!
All of these stories about book-banning are true, and in fact I had to cut a lot of verses to keep our recording under 3 minutes. Sadly, as long as people have been writing books that challenge our sensibilities there have been (and continue to be) other people who will fight to keep those books away from young readers. I certainly would not argue that *no* books should ever be kept away from kids; but to those who make it their mission to protect our kids from dangerous books, I would urge you to consider very carefully *why* you see a book as a threat.