Captain Underpants Author Speaks Out Against Banned Books

Posted on September 24, 2014

Heroes Read Banned Books poster featuring Captain Underpants created by Dav Pilkey

It's Banned Books Week and you might be surprised at who has landed the top spot for two years running: Dav Pilkey, the author of the Captain Underpants books. Pilkey was quite surprised to find that his books were so despised by some parents that they got banned.

Judith Platt of the Association of American Publishers is the chair of this year's Banned Books Week committee. She told NPR that although some parents don't like the books, many parents love them because it finally got their child to read a book. Pilkey is mystified as to why his books stir up so much controversy and says he doesn't think the books are anti-authoritarian.

The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

He also said that he doesn't think that children should never question authority. If a child is in a situation and something is wrong, he or she may need to question a so-called authority figure in order to stay safe. He explained, "You know, there are villains in real life, and they don't always wear black capes and black hats. Sometimes they're dressed like authority figures. And kids need to know that it's important to question them."

Pilkey is quite unhappy about his books being banned. He made a video to show how parents can express their concern over a book's content for their own children, without impinging on the rights of other families to read and enjoy the book. He illustrates how one simple change in language can made a huge difference.

For example he draws a very angry adult saying that children should not read a certain book. By adding the word "my" it becomes "I don't think my children should read this book," which has a very different meaning. Censorship is a much bigger danger to children and to society than anything found in a Captain Underpants book. Here is the video:

Photos: Dav Pilkey (poster image)/Scholastic (book cover)

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