Friday, May 14, 2010

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Have You Been Banned?

Author Bill Martin, Jr., one of the world's favourite children's authors, joins the ranks of Robert Munsch, Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak, and Roald Dahl, as a challenged author.

According to "Name Confusion Gets Kid's Author Banned from Texas Curriculum," an article in the Dallas News, the Texas Board of Education removed Bill Martin from the grade three curriculum because they believed he had written books for adults that contain "very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system."

The book on Marxism, entitled Ethical Marxism, was actually written by Bill Martin, a philosophy professor from Chicago.

Pat Hardy, the member of the school board who made the motion to exclude Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do you See? received a warning about the author's supposed political tendencies from another member of the school board who had not read the book.

Michael Sampson, Martin's co-author on 30 children's books stated that Hardy's motion is "a new low in terms of the group that's supposed to represent education having such faulty research and making such a false leap without substantiating what they're doing."

My first thought upon reading this article was, "So what if he wrote 'very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system?'" Does that somehow negate the value of this children's book, used by many primary school teachers to teach colour? The reason for banning this book smacks of McCarthyism. The importance of reading the book being challenged is proven by this incident.

Check out the video of Bill Martin, Jr. reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, then the spoof read by daddytypes.

There is still time to set your goal for the "Banned Book Challenge."

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