It is Banned Books Week 2017! Every year in September, the American Library Association celebrates the freedom to read and freedom of information by highlighting classically-banned books as well as the most frequently challenged books each year. A lot of the books I’m aware of, but some of them surprised me. (James and the Giant Peach? Really?) Every year, people officially request (challenge) to have certain books removed from libraries, and the fact that this still happens kind of shocks me. A lot of the books are children’s books and YA books, in an attempt to block certain subjects (generally race, gender issues, basically anything considered diverse content) from kids. And like a kid, if you tell me not to read a book, I’m definitely going to read it. In my opinion, censorship has no place in libraries, bookstores, or anywhere else that books are available for the general public. Are certain books geared toward older kids or adults? Yes, of course. Waiting until someone is a certain age to read specific books is completely different from wanting books banned from EVERYONE.
It’s important to bring attention to this issue and to read banned books! Why? To promote freedom of choice and the freedom to read anything we want. I’m sure some people have the best intentions when they challenge books, but others are simply trying to push their own agendas onto everyone else. Harry Potter has been challenged so many times because some people (a pretty small group, I’d say, given Potter’s continued popularity) think it promotes witchcraft and corrupt ideas. Those people seem to ignore the fact that Harry’s true power comes from his mother’s love, not magic, and that the entire series advocates for family, friendship, love, being inclusive, and knowledge. Not so scandalous after all!
I’ve listed a few of my favorite banned books below, as well as some of the most popular and regularly-challenged books. Many of them have been challenged because they include diverse content, something we should all be reading MORE of, not less.
Have you read any of these? Which banned books are on your reading list this week and this year? Do any of these titles surprise you?
You can find a complete list of challenged and banned books at the ALA website HERE.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeanette Walls