I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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28 November 2012
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Inappropriate Tool for School In today’s society, more and more inappropriate material is becoming acceptable. Children are becoming more comfortable with bad language, corrupt movies, and offensive books as they are exposed to this material more frequently. The age they begin to learn about violence, drugs, and sex is lower than ever before. Today’s generation seems to be more experienced and knowledgeable about these shockingly crude things than most adults! Parents can not stop this maturing all together; however, they can slow it down by monitoring their children. It is a parent’s right to know what their child is learning, in case it goes against their family’s views. A parent should be completely comfortable with what their child is being taught in school. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a book that most parents do not feel comfortable with. Due to many inappropriate scenes and language, this book has been frequently challenged by parents and authority, being the third most challenged book in the 1930’s and 1990’s (Baldassarro). These shocking passages could offend and hurt some children; however, the book does have some redeeming qualities--if the reader is mature enough to appreciate and understand them. Therefore, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings should be allowed in libraries for those few who can really appreciate it’s merit, but should be restricted because it is not appropriate for all children.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings has a legal history as it is frequently challenged and therefore should be restricted. The book’s graphic depiction of childhood rape, racism, and sexuality has caused it to be challenged or banned in many schools and libraries. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings has had thirty-nine public challenges or bans since 1983 (Baldassarro). For example, in Kansas parents were uncomfortable with the book and attempted to ban it based on the “vulgar language, sexual explicitness, and violent imagery that is gratuitously employed” (Baldassarro). It was challenged for being on a Maryland high school reading list in 2001 because of its sexual content and foul language; it was banned for language and being too explicit in the description of rape and other sexual abuse in 2002; It was challenged in 2003 as required reading in Montana due to sexual exploration by teenagers, rape and homosexuality; and finally, it was challenged in Virginia school libraries by the group Parents Against Bad Books in Schools for “profanity and descriptions of drug abuse, sexually explicit conduct and torture.” 2005 resulted in a banning due to racism, homosexuality, sexual content, offensive language and being unsuitable for the age group (Baldassarro). With so many challenges and bans, one can see how controversial I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is. This book has been challenged for years, always offending parents as they find the material unacceptable. People usually only take the time to challenge a book if they feel strongly about it’s content. Going to court takes a lot of time and effort and obviously these parents are very uncomfortable with their children being exposed to this material. Therefore, due to it’s history in court, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is not appropriate for children and should be restricted in schools. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings should be restricted because it contains many inappropriate scenes and a lot of crude language. For example, the main character, Maya, is referred to as a “pretentious little bitch” in one of the opening scenes. There are many other shocking words and phrases used throughout the book such as “nigger”, “shit”, “sex”, “titties”, “pubes”, “whore”, “hell”, “pervert”, “queer”, and “vagina” (PABBIS). At times, these words are unnecessary and take away from the overall merit of the book. Even if children in high school hear these things everyday from their peers, it is inappropriate for the students to hear...
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