Speed Reads

take a look

LeVar Burton urges kids to 'read banned books' because 'that's where the good stuff is'

Take a look. It's in a banned book.

Former Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton appeared on The Daily Show this week to call on kids to "read banned books." In a sketch, Burton repeatedly recommends books to viewers, including one about Rosa Parks, only to learn they've been banned for one reason or another.

"As it turns out, that book is banned because reading about segregation is divisive," Burton says of the Rosa Parks book. "But since almost any book with Black people these days is considered divisive, here's one that doesn't have any people in it at all!" 

Burton then recommends a book about two boy penguins and their baby, only to learn it, too, has been banned "because of sexual perversion" — even though "there's no sex in the book at all." Finally, Burton recommends Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss before being informed there's also an issue with that because it's "disrespectful to parents." A frustrated Burton finally gives up and concludes viewers should seek out these banned books anyway. 

"Read the books they don't want you to," Burton says. "That's where the good stuff is. Read banned books!" 

The sketch with Burton came after host Trevor Noah discussed numerous recent stories about disputes over books in schools, including a case where a Tennessee school board barred the teaching of a graphic novel about the Holocaust and another where a parent asked a school district to remove a Michelle Obama biography. 

"This is more about ginning up a culture war than protecting kids," Noah argued, adding, "It's happening because they think it's a winning issue, or at least they think it's more of a winning issue than 'Trump is secretly still the president.'" He also joked, "They're banning books about race, about gender, about sexuality, about emotions, about history. Guys, that's all books!"