Categories
Banned Books Books

Banned Books Week

Why were these books banned?

1. I Am Jazz by Jessica Hershel and Jazz Jennings

I Am Jazz

Here’s my review. Hint: I loved it!

2. 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.

3. 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.

 

 

4.  It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris

It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris

I am completely unfamiliar with this book but it appears to be designed to talk to kids about
their changing bodies and sex. Knowledge is power, people. We don’t want a bunch of hormone
enraged middle schoolers doing things that they don’t know the consequences of. This reminds me of those
great books by the American Girl doll people who discuss puberty with young tweens. Kids need to know that
it’s all perfectly normal, even if it feels weird.

I do NOT think this is pornography, but you be the judge.

 

5.  The Color Purple By Alice Walker

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It may seem trite to discuss The Color Purple because it seems as if everyone is familiar with this important title.  The thing of it is, I read this book in college shortly after it came out.  Back then it was an interesting and difficult read but I had no idea how it would rock the literary and African American community.  Personally I was angry, sad, and confused by the treatment of the female protagonists.

Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture.

It is for these reasons that the book is challenged and banned.  The situations seem so violent and yet so personal that it’s no wonder The Color Purple is on the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books list. I think the main reason The Color Purple is so frequently challenged is that schools are concerned about exposing students to sexual violence and other aggressions.  I suppose depending on what age the students are reading the material that could be true. You certainly don’t want a child younger than 16 reading this book, but these are my personal feelings and I wouldn’t subject them on others.  For the right age group, the book is excellent insight into race and women in the South.

What are your thoughts on The Color Purple?

Come on people. It’s time to stop banning books.

 

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
Children Young Adult

Big Issues in YA from #KidLitCon in Hershey, PA

Big Issues in YA

Last week I had the thrill of  a lifetime to chair the committee and bring KidLitCon to Hershey PA! Hershey was a great venue and I’ll talk more about that later but right now I want to share with you a session I co-hosted with Donna Gaffney. Donna is a therapist and very knowledgeable about kids books and uses them in therapy with her clients. She’s also a very cool person.

We talked about issues that kids and teens face today and books that represent these issues in literature. Turning to books in a time of crisis is very common and helps the reader process their situation.  We listed the issues on poster paper and then encouraged the audience to list book titles under the appropriate issues.  This link should is a pdf of the results: BIG ISSUES in YA LITKidlitcon17

I think you’ll find the lists very interesting. Many thanks to Donna for quickly compiling the list. I hope this resource helps you.

More to come about KidLitCon in another post!

 

 

 

 

Categories
Bibliographies, Information, General Lists

5 YA Titles for Teens Containing Tough Mental Issues

5 YA Titles for Teens Containing
Tough Mental Issues

We all know kids want to read books about people like them. That is also true when kids are suffering or looking for answers. Following are books released this year that cover topics like mental illness and other tough issues. I haven’t read these yet but they look promising.

The First Time She Drowned. by Kerry Kletter

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Cassie O’Malley has been trying to keep her head above water—literally and metaphorically—since birth. It’s been two and a half years since Cassie’s mother dumped her in a mental institution against her will, and now, at eighteen, Cassie is finally able to reclaim her life and enter the world on her own terms.

But freedom is a poor match against a lifetime of psychological damage. As Cassie plumbs the depths of her new surroundings, the startling truths she uncovers about her own family narrative make it impossible to cut the tethers of a tumultuous past. And when the unhealthy mother-daughter relationship that defined Cassie’s childhood and adolescence threatens to pull her under once again, Cassie must decide: whose version of history is real? And more important, whose life must she save?

This title intrigued me because of the obvious mental illness theme. I wonder how many teens have been in a treatment facility and can relate?

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by EK Johnston

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Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

While it isn’t obvious, this is a story about surviving rape. A story that still needs to be told unfortunately.

Still Life with Tornado by AS King

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Actually Sarah is several human beings. At once. And only one of them is sixteen. Her parents insist she’s a gifted artist with a bright future, but now she can’t draw a thing, not even her own hand. Meanwhile, there’s a ten-year-old Sarah with a filthy mouth, a bad sunburn, and a clear memory of the family vacation in Mexico that ruined everything. She’s a ray of sunshine compared to twenty-three-year-old Sarah, who has snazzy highlights and a bad attitude. And then there’s forty-year-old Sarah (makes good queso dip, doesn’t wear a bra, really wants sixteen-year-old Sarah to tell the truth about her art teacher). They’re all wandering Philadelphia—along with a homeless artist allegedly named Earl—and they’re all worried about Sarah’s future.

If you’re familiar with AS King you know her stories start out as one thing and end up as something else. And always there’s a mental health issue at stake.

Highly Illogical Behavior. by John Corey Whaley

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Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?

Enter Lisa.

Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same.

This kid is agoraphobic. I wonder how many kids today are? This is not a subject to take lightly to laugh at. I hope it does the issue justice.

If I Was Your Girl. by Meredith Russo

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Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. There’s a reason why she transferred schools for her senior year, and why she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she’s ever met—open, honest, kind—and Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself…including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.

Gender reassignment is gaining understanding and I think it’s great that books are available to help teens process it.

Have you read any of these books?

Categories
2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Books Young Adult

What’s In My Ear: Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper

There are lots of good and bad slave narratives out there. Lucky for you I stumbled across a good one:

Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper

Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper

 

Here’s a bit about the book:

Amari’s life was once perfect. Engaged to the handsomest man in her tribe, adored by her family, and living in a beautiful village, she could not have imagined everything could be taken away from her in an instant. But when slave traders invade her village and brutally murder her entire family, Amari finds herself dragged away to a slave ship headed to the Carolinas, where she is bought by a plantation owner and given to his son as a birthday present.

Survival seems all that Amari can hope for. But then an act of unimaginable cruelty provides her with an opportunity to escape, and with an indentured servant named Polly she flees to Fort Mose, Florida, in search of sanctuary at the Spanish colony. Can the elusive dream of freedom sustain Amari and Polly on their arduous journey, fraught with hardship and danger?

Don’t be fooled by the sweet cover: there are mature topics like rape and murder that might not be suitable for younger readers. I would say 14 maybe? But oh what a great story. I loved hearing about the journey from the two different character’s points of view.  More people need to read this book and it would be a great addition to any study on the South and slavery.

Get this sleeper today!

 

Categories
2015 Diversity Reading Challenge

An Unconventional Librarian’s 2015 #DiversityReadingChallenge

IT’S TIME FOR DIVERSITY!

I’ve been wanting to start my own reading challenge and I’ve finally done it! Let’s ring in 2015 with a reading challenge that celebrates the multicultural reader and challenges the status quo.

Presenting the Diversity Reading Challenge!fd

DIVERSITY CHALLENGECollage

 

This challenge pairs well with almost any other challenge you’re participating in; there are multicultural books in every genre. If you’re new to reading diverse books, you’ll be hooked. If you’re an avid consumer of multicultural reads, then this challenge will suit you just fine.  There are no complicated rules to this challenge; participate how you want, when you want.

Wanna chat about books? Tweet me @pamlovesbooks with #DiversityReadingChallenge, leave a comment here, or leave a link to your #DiversityReadingChallenge page! Let’s keep this conversation going…

Categories
Books

Towne Book Center Bookclub: Picking Cotton

Picking Cotton

 

This month we’re discussing Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thomspon-Cannino and Ronald Cotton.  Here’s my video review:

 

As you can see, this is a powerfully moving tale of hope, forgiveness, and redemption.  I highly recommend it for law classes, psychology classes, and just general human nature study.

Well done!

Categories
Books Young Adult

All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry #ATTM

All the Truth That's in MeEvery once in a while you find a book that stays with you.  All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry is that book.  At the risk of giving a very bad description of the book, read what it says from the author’s blog.

Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family. Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember—even if he doesn’t know it—her childhood friend, Lucas. But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever. This startlingly original novel will shock and disturb you; it will fill you with Judith’s passion and longing; and its mysteries will keep you feverishly turning the pages until the very last.

Pretty amazing right?

I can’t quite place the time and location of the setting, it feels like 18th century America. Sort of the time when Hester might have been living during the Scarlet Letter.  Certainly the character’s names allude to that time: Abijah Pratt, Goody Pruett, etc.  The two aspects of the book that amaze me are Judith’s strength of character: how she survives the constant onslaught of degradation at home and in town is remarkable. Also amazing are the depths of  depravity that people sink to.  I am reminded of a line in which our heroine says something like: Just because you think I’ve been used before doesn’t mean you can use me.  Here’s the phrase, beautifully put:

I’ll not be the pet of men who feel like touching something, anything.  I’ll not be thought easy to have for having been had before.

And that, my friends is the sign of a strong female character.  We need more of these.  Well done Julie!

Julie Berry

Here’s a pic of Julie and me. She’s totally trying to steal my drink.

Get this book right away for every young woman in your life.

It’s a life changer.

 

 

I give it four paws!

Unconventional Librarian 4paws

 

Categories
Books Young Adult

Video Review of Canary by Rachele Alpine

Today I have a video review!

Hint: Miners take canaries underground with them.  When the bird stops breathing, it’s time to get out of the mine.

huh, huh?