Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Persepolis Banned in Chicago. What?

As a former librarian, I am always interested in banned books and the reason for their banning. In yet another short-sighted move by a public school district, the banning of the book Persepolis from the Chicago Public Schools 7th grade curriculum seems to be arbitrary. My book club read the book in 2010 and I also watched the movie, which won an Oscar in 2008. As a matter of fact, I gave the book to my 8th grade grandson when I was done reading it. I found it to be profound and a terrific example of a graphic memoir. 

What I find remarkable about this whole situation is that Chicago has one of the most diverse populations in the country, and the experiences of the author, Marjane Satrapi when she was about 12 during the Iranian Revolution would seem to be age appropriate as it offers a view of a culture at war. Additionally, the violence in the book is not so far removed from the violence Chicago children are exposed to on a daily basis. I would think that it might be comforting for children of 13 or 14 to read about how a young girl survived the violence in her country. 

My grandson read Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago as part of his ninth grade Chicago school curriculum. In that book, two ten year old boys dropped a 5-year-old off a roof in the neighborhood where my grandson goes to high school. How could Our America possibly be more respectable than Persepolis? i probably shouldn't speak too loudly or they will ban that book, too.
This article about the banning appeared in today's Shelf Awareness newsletter. Here is my blog entry about the book. 

Persepolis Ban in Chicago Boosts Graphic Novel's Sales