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Banned Books Books

Banned Books Week Starts TODAY!

We all know the importance of knowledge and learning, right? I don’t want to waste anymore time talking about why banning books is dumb. Let’s celebrate the great books that have been challenged and you can decide for yourself what you think.

1. Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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I love this tiny book so hard. First because it is set in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA and second because the setting is the 80s which is also when I grew up, although the author is a couple years younger than I am. Our experiences are kind of similar: no cell phones, record players, pac man and hairspray to name a few.  This is a coming of age tale that is beautifully told about the man character who suffers from some dangerous mental health issues.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

I am a tad confused about why books about teens and intended for teens should be completely sterile. Kids want to read about situations that are similar to what they are experiencing; at least when they are reading realistic fiction, right? So why then, do people insist on challenging books that  “…deals with sexual situations and drug use.” ?

Again, this is a title you should read for yourself.

2. Looking for Alaska by John Green

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This is by far my fave John Green book.

Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

Oh how this title reminds me of some of the books we read in high school: the what’s it all about and how do i make a difference in this world type of books!

The book was challenged because of sexual content.  Again. Teens, experimenting with sex. It’s what they do, right?  This one, however, is rather mild considering what I’ve read in other books.  It’s a botched BJ and while that might not be appropriate material for young teens or even middle grade readers, I guarantee your older teen has read worse. Or heard worse on the bus. Check it out for yourself before you pass judgement. As always, parents have a right to decide what’s best for their own kiddos, just not for everyone.

3. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

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Ironically, Fallen Angels was

Challenged on the Danbury Middle School reading list in Toledo, Ohio (2013) because of inappropriate language. The book depicts the reality of the Vietnam War, with sometimes gruesome descriptions of combat and frequent foul language from soldiers.

But here’s the question that I’d like answered: what kind of language would you expect soldiers to use? I know the books are for young teens but depicting soldiers using language that is a little too clean, might be a little too unrealistic.  I don’t know about where you live, but around here, Fallen Angels is on many schools’ required reading lists.

Have you read it?

4. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

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Please don’t confuse Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison with The Invisible Man by HG Wells!

As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying “battle royal” where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist rally where they are elevated to the status of trophies, Ralph Ellison’s nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief. Suspenseful and sardonic, narrated in a voice that takes in the symphonic range of the American language, black and white, Invisible Man is one of the most audacious and dazzling novels of our century.

 

For the same reasons that Invisible Man is an important read to understand the struggles of the African American community, Invisible Man has also been challenged. To be sure, the book contains strong language but you cannot properly depict the struggles of that era by using tame language, I think.  Either way, it’ll make you think. This book is so so so well written.

 

5. The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq

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There is so much to learn about the Middle Eastern region and so little time to read.

Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. For fourteen years, her library has been a meeting place for those who love books. Until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears that the library–along with the thirty thousand books within it–will be destroyed forever.

In a war-stricken country where civilians–especially women–have little power, this true story about a librarian’s struggle to save her community’s priceless collection of books reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries. Illustrated by Jeanette Winter in bright acrylic and ink.

Sounds great, right? Other people obviously don’t feel the same way and have challenged the book “because of violent illustrations and storyline” which  is rather irrational because what would kind of story do you expect to hear when reading about a war torn country? Perhaps the age group was not appropriate for the book.

 

 

Categories
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?

Categories
Banned Books

#BannedBooks Week. Here’s what I’ve Read

I Read Banned Books!

 

I don’t believe in banning books. I believe it’s your right as a parent to decide what books your children have access to. Otherwise, it’s hands off. You don’t get to decide for everyone. The main reasons these books were banned was sexuyal orientation or mild sex scenes. Um hello? Have you seen what your kids are watching on the internet?

Here are some of the books I’ve read from the 2016 Banned Book list:

I Am Jazz by Jessica Hershel and Jazz Jennings

I Am Jazz

Here’s my review. Hint: I loved it!

 

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing isn’t my favorite book but that doesn’t mean it needs to be banned! I didn’t care for the choir of people in the background. But  the book is  totally suitable for teens.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

I read this book in 2012 while traveling to NYC to BEA. I brought the book with me in hopes of getting him to sign it. He DID! Here’s a link to the recap. LOVE.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I read this the year it came out. Also another trip to BEA to meet the author (oh the perks of working in a bookstore)! Not sure why there’s no review.  I LOVE THIS BOOK SO HARD.

Sometimes I write micro reviews on Goodreads. Check me out there…

Did you read any of these most excellent banned books? What did you think?

 

 

Categories
Banned Books

#Banned Books Week. Have You Read These?

Let’s look at the top 10 books that were challenged in 2016

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association, ala.org/bbooks/NLW-Top10

I find this year’s list really interesting: there are two books for adults that are on the list. My first thought is: Why is an adult book being brought into a library for children? My second thought was: Did the students request these books or did the librarian think these books were appropriate? I need answers before I pass judgement.

 

This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
This young adult graphic novel, winner of both a Printz and a Caldecott Honor Award, was restricted, relocated, and banned because it includes LGBT characters, drug use, and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes.

 

Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Parents, librarians, and administrators banned this Stonewall Honor Award-winning graphic novel for young adults because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint.

 

George written by Alex Gino
Despite winning a Stonewall Award and a Lambda Literary Award, administrators removed this children’s novel because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels.”

 

I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
This children’s picture book memoir was challenged and removed because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints.

 

Two Boys Kissing written by David Levithan
Included on the National Book Award longlist and designated a Stonewall Honor Book, this young adult novel was challenged because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content.

 

Looking for Alaska written by John Green
This 2006 Printz Award winner is a young adult novel that was challenged and restricted for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation.”

 

Big Hard Sex Criminals written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
Considered to be sexually explicit by library staff and administrators, this compilation of adult comic books by two prolific award-winning artists was banned and challenged.

 

Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread written by Chuck Palahniuk
This collection of adult short stories, which received positive reviews from Newsweek and the New York Times, was challenged for profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive.”

 

Little Bill (series) written by Bill Cosby and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood
This children’s book series was challenged because of criminal sexual allegations against the author.

 

Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell
One of seven New York Times Notable Children’s Books and a Printz Honor recipient, this young adult novel was challenged for offensive language.

So with the exception of the two adult books, and the Little Bill books, I think the list is fairly typical. Seems like schools and parents don’t want kids reading about teens engaging in sex or about people of the LGBT orientation; which is plain scary. Like kids don’t know these things exist.

Have you read any of these?

Categories
Banned Books Books

Banned Book Week is Coming

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Banned Books Diversity Reading Challenge

Banned Book Week

Banned Book Week

One final question…

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What a tough question. I’d probably take a book about my heritage so that I wouldn’t forget. As much as I love Toni Morrison, alot of her stuff has ghosts in them which don’t match the stories my family told, plus I’m scary and don’t like ghosties (the baby, in Beloved, helloooo?). So for that reason I would probably choose The Color Purple. There’s so much to relate to.

Like this quote: Everything want to be loved.

It’s true, right? Who doesn’t want to be loved? That’s why I would have to memorize The Color Purple. Lots of good inspirational quotes inside.

What book would you memorize and why?

 

Categories
Banned Books

Banned Book Week: Tough Questions…

Banned Book Week

Tough questions…

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Confronting banned books makes you stop and think. Why do I feel this way? Are my feelings valid, biased, or conflicted? If you stop and think about it, you can probably understand why a parent would want to ban a book. But choosing books for your child  is a right of each parent, not a school board or other governing body.

That said, some people have gone to jail over their decisions regarding banned books.  What banned book would you go to jail defending?

Me? Probably I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

What about you?

Categories
Banned Books

Banned Book Week

Banned Book Week
What are the top challenged books of 2015?

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Categories
Banned Books

Banned Book Week: Why are Books Challenged?

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What do you think about this list? Should books containing these themes be banned? Have you ever read any banned books as a child or let your child read banned books? Why or why not?

Categories
Banned Books

It’s Banned Book Week!

It’s Banned Book Week!

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You know I love to talk about banned books, right? As a certified librarian I believe information wants to be free so I want to make sure people have all the information they need to make informed choices. It’s up to parents to decide what’s right for their own children, not for someone else’s.

All this week I’ll be highlighting books that have been challenged or banned. Following along why dontcha?

What’s your fave banned book?