A few years ago, a kid came into my library and was horrified at my banned books display. How could we ban a book?! His father was Irish and laughed. "Ah Son, let me tell you how we used to ban books when I was a lad! When it comes to banning books, America doesn't know what it's doing."
And it's true. When other countries ban a book, reading or owning the book is illegal. You don't need to smuggle certain titles into the US, like you do in many other countries. When a book is banned in the US, it's still available from other sources.
So, yeah, here in the US, we don't really ban books. We do like restricting access (or trying to.) And I'm sure that many people who like to properly ban a book. We do probably need a new vocabulary, but we also need greater outrage.
Banned Books Week serves to draw attention to the fact that people do want to ban books. They want to tell you what's right for your child, because they know better than you do. It also celebrates that we don't properly ban books, because that's not what America is about. You can try, but we will fight back.
One way we fight back is by drawing attention to the books that people want swept under the rug. Pick it up, read it, and make the plans of these haters totally back fire.
Today books are a few of the Top 100 Banned/Challenged books in 2000-2009.
The Giver by Lois Lowry. When jobs are handed out, Jonas is apprenticed to The Giver. In their perfect society, it's the Giver's job to remember what life was like before. The Giver is the only one who knows pain, but he's also the only one who can see colors or know joy. In addition to the memories, Jonas is given the truth behind what makes their society work
Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan. Mr. Griffin is strict and mean, and a group of students plan a prank to teach him a lesson. It's just a prank, but when accidents happen and bodies start piling up, Susan realizes that one of her friends is a killer.
The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney. One day at lunch, Janie's looking at the missing child on the back of her milk carton and is shocked to recognize herself. Her proper, slightly uptight parents can't really be kidnappers, can they? But what about these flashes of memory from a different type of life? Who is Janie Johnson?
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison. While Georgia is mainly preoccupied with her love life, readers will fall in love with her insane cat, mad toddler sister, crazy parents, and the Bison dancing of the Ace Gang.
Blubber by Judy Blume. The class teases Linda because she's fat. Jill goes along with it because... well, why not. But Linda won't be the only victim, and how far will the class goes before it stops?
Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez. At first glance, Jason, Kyle, and Nelson have nothing in common. But all three are gay, even if they aren't all out.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey. When McMurphy is admitted, the mental ward will never be the same, but Nurse Ratchett runs a tight ship-- one that won't tolerate McMurphy's rebellion.
When Dad Killed Mom by Julius Lester. Jeremy and Jenna struggle with the aftermath of what happens when their father murders their mother. With one parent dead and the other in jail, they must try to make a new family and deal with the truth about what happened, and why.
Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going. Troy is about to step off the subway platform in front of an oncoming train when Curt stops him. Curt is everything Troy isn't-- Curt is painfully skinny, Troy is morbidly obese, Curt is cool, Troy is a loser... but for some reason, even though Troy hasn't played drums in years, Curt asks him to drum for his band. Both boys have their issues, but they also have the music.
What are your favorite banned books?
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