Shel Silverbanned

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How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes

If you have to dry the dishes
(Such an awful boring chore)
If you have to dry the dishes
(‘Stead of going to the store)
If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor
Maybe they won’t let you
Dry the dishes anymore

Shel Silverstein’s book of poetry A Light in the Attic (1981) was challenged and then banned at Cunningham Elementary School in Wisconsin because it “encourages children to break dishes so they won’t have to dry them.” Another school in Mukwanago Wisconsin banned it in 1986 because some of its poems “glorified Satan, suicide and cannibalism, and also encouraged children to be disobedient.”

Silverstein’s 1974 work Where the Sidewalk Ends also drew challenges. It was banned from West Allis Milwaukee school libraries in 1986 because it “promotes drug use, the occult, suicide, death, violence, disrespect for truth, disrespect for authority, and rebellion against parents.” This work was also banned by the Central Columbia School District, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, specifically referencing the poem “Dreadful” and the concern that lines like “someone ate the baby” would encourage students to engage in cannibalism.

—from the Banned & Dangerous Art blog.

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