Banned Books Diversity Reading Challenge

Banned Book Week

Banned Book Week

One final question…




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?


Books Diversity Reading Challenge

Discover Black History Month with Toni Morrison

Discover Black History Month with Toni Morrison

Sula by Toni Morrison


You can’t have Black History Month without Toni Morrison, right?

After all, Oprah picked Sula as a book club choice in the 90s!!

Let the record show that I already knew about Ms Morrison by then. (smirk)

I think my first Morrison book must have been

The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

“Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America.”

It seemed to me that Pecola and I shared the same desire. How did Morrison know??

Because she’s Toni Friggin Morrison, that’s how.

Paradise by Toni Morrison

I can’t remember if I read this Jazz. I must have.

Jazz by Toni Morrison

I’m beginning to have one of my brilliant ideas.

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

I think I will take ALL of my Toni Morrison books (my Toni shrine)

on vacation this summer and have a little Tonithon.

A Toni re-reading marathon. A Tonithon.

Which is your fave Toni Morrison book?

Disclaimer:  while these books are for grown folks, I’m sure many teens will enjoy these as well.

There is violence, sexual violence and language in these books. It’s up to you to decide what’s right for YOUR child.

Happy discovery.

Qualifies for the Diversity Challenge too.

2015 Diversity Reading Challenge

I think I have now read ALL of Toni Morrison’s Books.

Toni Morrison has been around a while. And her work has inspired many discussions, arguments, and probably, homework assignments.  It had been a while since I’d read anything of Morrison’s and although her works are great, they, unfortunately for me, contain ghosts, which as you know, scare me because I’m a chicken.


This collage only represents the books that I remember reading. It is not meant to be conclusive.

Morrison’s books generally take place in mid century America. In a time when civil rights where either just about to happen or are in progress.  Her heroines and heroes are full of life and characters and flaws, and just like us all, have dreams of a better life.  The human condition is the same in all of us, which I guess is a common thread in Morrison’s work.

I read Home this weekend and I loved it. Morrison’s writing will make you think about what home means and what it is to be a family. I didn’t find the action in Home to be as tumultuous and as ghost filled as her other works, but the resonating message is still there: I am a person.

Any and every Toni Morrison book qualifies for the Diversity Challenge! Have you read any of the nobel laureate’s books?  Which one(s)?

Also? Her books have frequently been on the Banned Books list. Know which ones?


2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Lists

Top Five African American Reads

I’m so excited to share this list with you today! My young cousin is a teacher in Pittsburgh and she was gracious enough to share her fave African American books with me. These reads will be perfect for the Diversity Reading Challenge and as additions to your TBR list. My cousin Lisa’s thoughts are first. Mine are in italics.

Seasons of Beento Blackbird by Akosua Busia

Seasons of Beento Blackbird by Akosua Busia

The Seasons of Beento Blackbird marks the debut of Akosua Busia, an exciting and passionate new novelist. It is the story of Solomon Wilberforce, a magnetic and brilliant man who writes bestselling children’s books under the name Beento Blackbird and who has dedicated himself to educating the far-flung children of African descent about their glorious heritage. And it is also the story of the three women who love him: Miriam, the Caribbean midwife who delivered him into the world when she was nine years old; Samantha, his beautiful, talented, and utterly modern New York book agent; and Ashia, an innocent woman-child who awaits him in her native village in Ghana. Solomon spends one season a year with each of these very different women. But when a family tragedy brings him to New York out of season, he finds that the neat compartments that once separated Miriam, Sam, and Ashia begin to fold in on one another. In a life that was once ordered by the cadence of nature itself, suddenly nothing is certain – and Solomon and the women he loves will never be the same again

Lyrical telling of a man’s struggle to love selflessly. I just added this to my TBR list.  

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Seasons of Beento Blackbird by Akosua Busia

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

Unique telling of one woman’s journey to literally go back in time and heal the wounds of her ancestors in an effort to function in the present. Unique in that these ancestors are both one of slaves and slave masters. I love the idea of this because of the time travel!

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

Historical Fiction at it’s best. Captures the essence of a 360 degree beautifully distarous sweet journey of a young African girl from freedom to slavery to freedom. For the first time ever, a simple novel that is able to capture such rich content in a manner that will stunt your ability to put the book down until completed. I read this book this year and loved it! It’s simplicity is beautiful. 

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston


Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate. Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person -no mean feat for a Black woman in the 30’s. Zora Neale Hurston’s classic 1937 novel follows Janie from her nanny’s plantation shack to Logan Killick’s farm, to all Black Eatonville, to the Everglades, and back to Eatonville- where she gathers in “the great fish-net” of her life. Janie’s quest for identity takes her on a journey during which she learns what love is, experiencess life’s joys and sorrows, and comes home to herself in peace.

Captured one woman’s failed journey to find a sense of purpose and peace within the confines of a man. Rich is colorful dialect and spirit. A love story like no other.  I thought I had read this in college, but I must have overlooked it. Adding this to my TBR list as well!

August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean

August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean

Captures the story of the African American Female Matriarch and her never faltering spirit of resilence despite unsurmountable obstacles.

Yeah so I MUST say something about August Wilson. I’m not a raging fan of Wilson’s as his stories scare me, much like Toni Morrison’s. What I DO love about Wilson’s work is that it chronicles the African American community in Pittsburgh, where I was born and raised, which is an often overlooked city, despite its rich history.

I’m so PROUD of my lil cousin, she’s all grown up now and is one hella teacher in Pittsburgh! So much love for teachers out there, doing what they love to do.

Hey teachers, if you ever want to send me your top 5 list like this, JUST. DO. IT.


Banned Books

Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop: Authors of Color

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom To Read

All this week I’ll be celebrating banned books week by highlighting challenged or banned books. Why is banned books week important? According to the American Library Association (of which I’m a member),

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

As a parent, you have a right to decide what your own children should be exposed to, but I strongly believe that you do not have the right to dictate what other children have access to. So, let’s celebrate the books that have been challenged and see if you’ve read any of them and you can make the decision for yourself. Each day of Banned Books Week I’ll highlight several of the titles that were challenged or banned last year. Let’s see how they stack up.  Also? This is a blog hop so I’ll giveaway a $10 Amazon gift card to the winner!

Today’s the last day of Banned Books Week. In honor of that I thought we’d take a look at the authors of color and how they’ve played a role in BBW.  To be sure, authors of color include just about everyone who isn’t in the White majority, which brings a full complement of experiences to literature that readers might not otherwise be exposed.  Because many of these experiences contain violent situations and language, they are frequently part of the challenged and banned books list.

I’ve made a collage of the authors of color who often appear on the list.  Let’s see if you recognize any of them.

authors of color

Hard to believe, isn’t it? Without these books we wouldn’t have any idea of the African American experience, the Hispanic experience or the Native American experience.  Can you imagine not knowing what you know about those groups and their struggles? And who didn’t cry when they read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor?

What’s your fave author of color?

Thanks for tuning in to Banned Books Week!


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Banned Books Books Young Adult

#BBW A Short List of Banned Books – Update

I was cleaning up this weekend and found this old assignment from grad school: a list of banned books from 1990-2000. How funny!

How many books on the list have you read? The titles in bold are the ones I’ve read, now updated for 2012.

Check it out!

 The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–20001

  1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
  2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
  3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
  8. Forever by Judy Blume
  9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
  12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
  16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
  17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
  18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  19. Sex by Madonna
  20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
  21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
  24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
  26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
  27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
  28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
  29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
  30. The Goats by Brock Cole
  31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
  32. Blubber by Judy Blume
  33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
  34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
  35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
  36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
  37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
  41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
  45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
  46. Deenie by Judy Blume
  47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
  49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
  50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
  51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
  54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
  55. Cujo by Stephen King
  56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
  58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
  60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
  62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
  64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
  65. Fade by Robert Cormier
  66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
  67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
  68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
  69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  71. Native Son by Richard Wright
  72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
  73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
  74. Jack by A.M. Homes
  75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
  76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
  77. Carrie by Stephen King
  78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
  79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
  80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
  81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
  82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
  83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
  84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
  87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
  88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
  89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
  90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
  91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
  93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
  94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
  95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
  97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
  98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
  100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

I realize some of these books are pretty old. Stay tuned as I dig up more and more banned books!

Have you read any of these books?