This week in the ComicMix’s Challenged Challenge, twin teen geeks Maddy and Anya Ernst, break down why Marjane Satrapi’s award-winning graphic memoir Persepolis should not be banned and why it should instead be embraced by schools and parents to promote further education of their students.
The autobiographical memoir tells Satrapi’s own story of growing up during the Iranian Revolution. Although the book has been highly praised by critics and readers alike and has found a place in classrooms across the country, Persepolis has seen numerous ban attempts in schools and libraries for reasons ranging from depictions of violence and Islam to “coarse language.” From the public school system in Chicago, Illinois, to school libraries Three Rivers, Oregon, and even a college course at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California, the attempts to have this acclaimed graphic novel pulled from academic settings earned the book the #2 spot on the American Library Association’s 2014 Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books.
“Other people wanted to ban the book because they thought that kids shouldn’t be learning about the Iran revolution,” note the Tweeks. “Should kids not learn about historical events? Do their parents turn off NPR in the car or the news on TV? There’s still so much fallout from the Iran Revolution on the news today.”
As the Tweeks appropriately point out, the subject matter covered in Persepolis is still entirely relevant to events happening today. Moreover, as an autobiography of a young girl who grew up both before and after the Revolution, the perspective that Satrapi brings to the event is one that is wholly unique, informative, and affords a prime opportunity for educating students and providing them with a historical context for what they are seeing on the news today, as the Tweeks note:
Truth be told, it’s not all appropriate for children, but it’s happening to children there… Instead of trying to ban books about it, they should be trying to use it to educate their kids because it is all very complicated and scary and kids need to be talked through the images and news.
This being said, the Tweeks acknowledge that the book isn’t for young children (and no one said it was), but they suggest it is completely appropriate for high school students in classroom settings, and they add that it is without question appropriate for adults in college.
Unlike other challenged books covered in the Challenged Challenge, Persepolis is one of the few in which many students, parents, and schools actively stood up to defend the book against bans through protests and more. “Some schools that aren’t banning the book are actually trying to bring it into the classroom to teach.” Whether it be the stunning praise that the book has received from news sources like Time magazine and the New York Times, or the long list of awards, Persepolis represents one of the greatest modern, non-fiction graphic novels of today and an excellent opportunity for educators and librarians to teach young adults about the world that they currently live in.
As the Tweeks note, “Banning books is wrong. People shouldn’t take reading choices away from other people. Not only is it rude, it’s also very uneducated #sorrynotsorry.”
And for educators and librarians, below is a quick list of several of the resources that CBLDF provides should you need to defend your students and patrons’ right to read if this book is challenged in your community:
- Case Study: Persepolis
- Using Graphic Novels in Education: Persepolis
- Adding Persepolis to your Library or Classroom Collections
- CBLDF Discussion Guide: Persepolis
- CBLDF Banned Books Week Handbook!
- Raising a Reader! How Comics and Graphic Novels Can Help Your Kids Love to Read!