Hi All! It’s Becky. One of my favorite book celebrations is Banned Book Week. I love highlighting books that some people may have limited access to because of politics outside their control. Banned Books are books that have, for many reasons, have been misunderstood, and I love that I have the opportunity to highlight some of these books. A quick note: I am endorsing these books based on their merit and a firm belief that libraries should not limit access to anyone. Libraries are in place to grant access to material and services that people may not be able to access otherwise, and this access must be unhampered. However, I have a strong opinion that parents should use their discretion when picking what books their children read. The library gives access to books, and it is the parent who should place restrictions on what their child (and just their child) reads. And now I will get off my soapbox and talk about the books!
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
ALA’s Most Challenged List 2019
Reason for Banishment: LGBTQIA+ content, goes against “family values/morals”
This book is one of the most popular books in my teen room. Tweens and younger teens love this book about Callie, a theater nerd who develops a crush on a boy at her school who happens to have a crush on another boy. The story is told in Telegmeier’s classic, honest voice that make young readers feel as if she is speaking to them. Yes, there is a slight discussion of LGBTQIA+ themes, but this book is for middle school readers, and there isn’t anything in this book that should be new to them.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
ALA’s Most Challenged List 2017
Reason for Banishment: considered pervasively vulgar, drug use, profanity, and offensive language
Angie Thomas’s debut novel is considered a YA classic after only being in publication for three years and has already inspired an amazing movie. The book is a realistic view of race and police brutality. The main character, Starr, is realistic and heartbroken and beautifully honest. Thomas’s strong writing has found this book fans throughout the world. Yes, there is drug use and profanity in this book, but there is also drug use and profanity in most high schools across the United States. The strength of this book is exactly why it has been challenged, it is so realistic that teens can truly see themselves in it which, let’s be honest, is the whole point of literature.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
ALA’s Most Challenged List 2015
Reason for Banishment: Offensive language, Sexually Explicit, and Unsuitable for Age Group
Looking for Alaska is the book that introduced us to the wonder of John Green! The popularity of this book has increased since the release of the Hulu limited series. It has become a classic in the world of YA lit. We all know the story of Miles, who transforms into Pudge when he begins to attend a boarding school in Alabama. Pudge is joined on his quest for the “Great Perhaps” by Colonel his prank planning, scholarship student, roommate, and Alaska, his beautiful classmate who Miles loves and loses. The book is beautiful and haunting but not something I would consider unsuitable for it’s intended readers (SLJ suggests grades 10 and up). Yes, there are curse words, and yes, there is some sexual activity. However, if you think the average tenth grader is going to learn anything shocking from this book, then you’re average tenth grader is very different then the tenth graders I know.
Want to learn more about Challenged Books? Check out the American Library Associations website!