Book Banning?

There is an interesting debate going on in the UK at the moment about GCSE English set texts – nice article here – where the education secretary has removed some classic American texts that have been in the set books lists for years and replacing them with English authors. There was a massive backlash at the start of this week as a couple of the books – John Steinbecks Of Mice and Men and Harper Lees To Kill A Mockingbird, are the ones that are going, with accusations that it’s because of Michael Goves personal hatred of Steinbeck (he read English at Oxford). At first, I was totally outraged, how can the government ban books, not right, rah rah, but having looked at some of the new books, I am kind of coming round to the idea. I LOVE John Steinbeck, East of Eden is my favourite book of all time and I dragged my husband to the John Steinbeck museum on our honeymoon (and saw Cannery Row – awesome!) and I do understand that these books deal with important themes; racism, unemployment, recession, poverty – all of which are still important today. And, obviously, are incredibly well written. But at the same time, I like that teenagers will be reading some real English classics – Frankenstein, Great Expectations, Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm are all on the new list. And the themes of these books are important too – identity, culture, politics. So I am feeling quite positive about the change. Continue reading