Bridge to Terabithia's Katherine Paterson on Censorship
Multiple-Newbery winner and honoree Katherine Paterson (who I had dinner with last year and is delightful) discusses censorship in a recent interview in Christianity Today. The subject is her classic book, Bridge to Terabithia, which is now a major motion picture:
Terabithia and Gilly Hopkins were on the American Library Association's list of the most frequently challenged books of the 1990s.READ THE REST
Paterson: Yeah, well. (laughs) People say, "Aren't you proud," and I say, "No, because it means every time it's challenged, some teacher or librarian is in trouble because of me, and I can't enjoy that." But the sad thing is, I think it's because people don't understand what a story is.
What is a story?
Paterson: A story is open-ended. A story invites you into it to make your own meaning. If you look at Jesus' parables, I think the Parable of the Sower is about the only one in which his disciples demand that the meaning be spelled out, but most of the stories Jesus tells are very open-ended. I mean, even with the Parable of the Prodigal Son, you get to the ending and you think, Well, did the big brother come in or not? Jesus leaves it open deliberately, for you to answer that. And that's what a story does. It's inviting you to identify yourself as a part of a story, and to come into it from where you are—and if you hear the same story over a period of years, you'll be in a different place, and the meaning is going to be different.
There's a trend lately to provide books and films for Christian audiences that are "safe for the whole family." Perhaps your books have been challenged because they're not necessarily "safe" for children. What do you make of the idea that children's books should be "safe"?
Paterson: Well, don't give them the Bible, then, because it's certainly not a safe book. Safety and faith are different things. If you want everything to be safe, then you can probably just totally do without the imagination. If you're so afraid of your imagination that you stifle it, how are you going to know God? How can you imagine heaven?