on young adult literature, literacy, and teaching

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Paperback, 368 pages

In honor of Banned Books Week, I thought I’d finally get around to posting about The Golden Compass, which I finished reading a few weeks ago and referenced in my letter to my students last week.

I am one of those people who will turn around and read the exact thing that someone is told not to read just to wave an emphatic pinky finger in their close-minded faces saying, “Ha! I read that and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about.” Do understand that I am not about putting a novel like Meg Cabot’s Queen of Babble in the hands of one of our seventh graders (this was one of the novels pulled from the shelf at my middle school, and justifiably so). There’s a difference between censoring because one disagrees with philosophical content and censoring because of the maturity level of the readers.

My motivation for reading The Golden Compass came from the aunt of one of the students at my middle school. She called up his mom and told her to make sure that he didn’t read this novel for religious reasons. I wasn’t privy to more details of the conversation–I got the story maybe third or fourth hand from our school librarian. But as with any book challenged (or psuedo-challenged) in our library, I had to find out why.

I’m going to go into the religious issues at a later date, but I do want to comment that I can see how some people would have problems with the novel. I can also say that it’s one I’d recommend to some of my reluctant readers, especially those who have already seen the movie (which, by the way, has been cleaned up as far as religious content goes).

I felt the movie was good for what it was, and worked for the medium in which it was presented, but as far as story goes, the novel has it, hands down.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12558944486232564923 cmsmith0328

    >From the school librarian: the student who told me about his aunt and how his mother was told not to read this book, has a mother almost as defiant (and proud of it) as our fearless reader, Eli. The boy's mother bought the book and the family had a read-aloud!! :) Nothing like thumbing your nose at the would-be censors out there!

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