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Banned Books

Banned Books Week is Coming!

In Honor of Banned Books Week, which starts TOMORROW,
Here are 4 Banned Books for Teens

1. The Diary of Anne Frank

I’m sure most adults are familiar with the tragic story of Anne Frank and her family.  Most adults have also probably read the book in high school as a reading assignment.  To be sure, the story is depressing, tragic, and at times, unreal.  After all, it is difficult to imagine a time when people where being killed for professing a certain religious belief.

Irrespective of when you last read Anne Frank, read it again as an adult. More pointedly, as a parent.  It will change your mindset.  My heart hurts that a young girl is forced to hide for so long only to ultimately perish in one of the worst ways possible.  As a mother with a daughter of a similar age, it hurts that the girl doesnt have the best relationship with her own mother.

If this is such a classic book, why then is it on the banned book list? To be sure, the story of The Holocaust is grossly violent, but most people believe it is truth and history so worthy of being studied.  To be sure, everyone knows the young Anne dies in the end, which is tragic.  This story, however, contains more than these facts: it’s a story about relationships and the girl’s view of the world.

Anne’s death isn’t described in detail unlike much teen literature that’s available today.  There is also no description of  violence, no sex, and no vampires: reasons which other books have been banned.  Challengers to the book claim that some versions of Anne Frank’s book contain sexually explicit and homosexual scenes.  The version I had did not contain those scenes. And so what if they did?

Regardless of the version you read, you cannot ban this book because some versions have scenes which you find objectionable or because of violent back stories.  It is your right as a parent to choose what your child reads. You cannot choose what other people’s children read.

Books want to be freely read. Agree? Disagree? Want more? Go see what others are reading and talking about this week!

P.S.  There is a newish book out, fiction, I believe, about her sister Margot.  Has anyone read it?

 

2. Go Ask Alice

Revisiting Go Ask Alice:  I know schools are still requiring this book.  Since my original post I’ve discovered that research suggests that this book is truly a work of fiction and not based on a real person.

Wow. Go Ask Alice is my current read for Banned Books Week. And all I can say is: Wow. Seriously.  Supposedly based on a diary of a young teenage girl, the book had me gripped from beginning to end.

I’m sure the book was banned due to its drug use and sex references. But, unlike some books (and many movies) these  experiences are NOT glamorized at all. At ALL.  The main character (whom I do NOT believe to be named Alice, although she references an Alice) complains and suffers bitterly because of her drug use.

If she could do a PSA I’m pretty sure she would say “don’t use drugs. ever!” But, alas, she does not get the chance.

Multiculturalism is a sticky wicket in this book.  I am 100% certain that all the characters in this book are Anglo, however, the main character does interact with her Jewish friend.  The setting is a middle class neighborhood in the early 70s where mothers still stayed at home, etc.  The sticky wicket is the drug activity.  A few references to homosexuality bump this book up to slightly more pluralistic viewpoint than many of the other books I’ve read recently.

Something scary about this? I just NOW noticed that there is a face on the cover of this book.  Wow.  Never saw that before and I look at this book OFTEN.

I HIGHLY recommend that you read this book with your children. Young teens (13+) need to get this lesson.

3. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

I want to revisit this title. Again. The story is so good and the movie was so…not.  Anyway, I now see teens buying this book so I’m guessing classrooms have realized how important this work is.  As always, book is BETTER.

“What about a teakettle? What if the spot opened and closed when the steam came out, so it would become a mouth, and it could whistle pretty melodies, or do Shakespeare, or just crack up with me? “

To be sure, Safran Foer’s new novel, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, is as interesting as his debut novel, Everything is Illuminated.  Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close revolves around 9 year old Oskar Schell, his family, and his father’s death after the Sept 11th events.  Do not be deceived: the story is neither for children (although possibly YA) nor a drab account of the terror attack.

Individual family members suffer with what appears to be post traumatic stress disorder through generations of terrorism and war.  Given his background, it is little wonder that Oskar suffers from anxiety as he copes with and searches for answers to his father’s death.  Safran’s story is imaginative in its presentation, providing photographs and other graphic representations: several pages are empty like pages in a blank book.  The book is clever enough to be different from every other novel, yet at times just a little too clever.

In the end I am satisfied with the author’s ending and the resolution of the character’s situations.  Multiculturally, the main characters are Jewish and while not openly practicing, appeals to my need for ethnic diversity.

 

4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I’m so excited for today’s review because it was written by none other than my Pumpkin!  At 15 Pumpkin is an avid reader and I love to share books with her.  In fact, she’s the one who got me hooked on Twilight and The Hunger Games series.  So I blame her for some of my madness.

Let’s see what Pumpkin says about Perks:

he perks of being a wallflower is a great book but I can see why it is on the banned book list. There is a lot of underage drinking, sex, and drugs going on without the mention of how bad they are. Charlie, the main speaker of the story, has become one of my favorite characters out of all the books I’ve read because of how honest he is. I also felt like I could feel his emotions in the story from the vivid explanations, the story had me crying at many points!

don’t think I could find anything wrong with the book. I feel it gives a real interpretation of how a kids who gets pulled into a great friendship would react.  Although many of the characters do wrong to Charlie at some point in the book, you don’t end up hating any of them at the end of of the book because of how kind speaking Charlie is about them. He always has a way of forgiving characters or seeing past their rudeness. This is a character trait I love because nowadays, most of the books I read are about people hating people.

Schools should overlook the drug usage and such in the book because The Perks Of Being A Wallflower makes you see things through other peoples eyes and shows you good life lessons. This book has been added to my favorites list!

I couldn’t agree more: you can’t hide drug use from kids, they already know about it

What are your thoughts? Worth challenging/banning?

By Pam

My passion is advocating for diversity in children's and YA literature.