According to the American Library Association, Captain Underpants is #1 most requested to be removed book in American libraries.
For a) insensitivity (in regards to what, I don’t know) b) inappropriate content for the age group and c) encouraging children to disobey authority.
I’m so…flabbergasted. I read this book series as a young child and I mainly remember being amused by the potty humor, which was already a staple of my 9 year old witticisms. And, um, you should not ban a book for encouraging children to disobey authority. The implication that children should be taught to obey authority for the sake of its being authority, rather than encouraging critical thinking – or, heaven forbid, employing civil disobedience or satire to change society – is very disturbing. (Okay, I’m taking it to an extreme but it really bugs me.)
On a lighter note, one would assume that most children between the ages of 7-12 do know the difference between fantasy and reality, including the difference between George and Harold’s inept principal and their own school authorities. I imagine that for some young readers, it provides a fun outlet when they are frustrated at the vagaries and incomprehensible harshness of the all-powerful adults in their lives. Children deserve that just as much as adults do.
Though this has nothing to do with the content of the books, I met Dav Pilkey at the Texas Book Festival this year, when he signed a book for one of my friends who was a huge fan. I missed Tim O’Brien because Pilkey took the time to talk to and draw a quick picture for every one of his fans. But I’m not annoyed. I’m impressed. That makes for a wonderful experience for his fans and I bet it really helps encourage kids to read. One has to respect someone who will sign books for two hours instead of one, just to make sure that all of his young fans have a special experience.
Anyway, if you want to monitor your child’s reading, do so! But only your child’s, not the community’s. One parent’s inappropriate potty humor is another parent’s bonding opportunity from laughter.