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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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?

2015 Diversity Reading Challenge

I am Jazz. A Book for Transgendered Children.

Here’s a book I love about a young girl and her family who figured out early on that she was different.

I am Jazz.

A gentle understanding of kids who are born into the wrong bodies.  I can’t express enough how important this is. All kids need acceptance.
Also? This book is OBVIOUSLY a qualifier for the Diversity Challenge!

2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Lists

Books You Might Want to Read in Light Of Bruce Jenner’s Transgender Decision

Wow. Bruce Jenner has been in the news a lot lately and whether you understand his transgender decision or not, it’s probably time that we start to understand transgenderism. I’m by no means an expert but just like you, I want to know what it’s all about and I want to be open and available to people who are identifying with a body different from the one they were born with.

I can’t imagine how it feels to be born in the wrong body.What’s more, I can’t imagine having to hide who you are for years. Over 60 years In Jenner’s case. People think they know you just by looking at you but that’s not really the case with transgendered people is it? What I show you on the outside may not be truly who I am on the inside. It’s time that the transgendered population becomes more understood and the only way we will be able to understand them is through gaining knowledge. And the best way to gain knowledge is through reading.

I’ve curated a list of books you might want to read in light of Bruce Jenner’s decision to become a woman. In this mix you’ll find fiction and nonfiction.

Transparent by Cris Beam

Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers by Cris Beam

You know me, my heart is with the kids. I want to understand what transgender teens struggle with, so I’d start here.


Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

I like the idea of a photo essay or snapshots of real transgendered teens. I also love this cover: We have to stop looking at people and asking boy or girl.

Transgender History by Susan Stryker

Transgender History by Susan Stryker

So this is a history book that traces the history of the transgender movement. I hesitate to use the word movement, as if it’s trendy like a diet. These are people’s lives we’re discussing. But you’ll be surprised how far back the transgender discussion goes.

Warrior Princess by Kristin Beck and Anne Speckhard,  Ph.D.


Warrior Princess: A US Navy Seal’s Journey to Coming Out Transgender by Kristin Beck & Ann Speckhard

First of all, I love the title Warrior Princess. The two words should not be mutually exclusive, right? I love how big strong manly Chris had so many macho manly experiences including being a Navy Seal; you don’t get much more macho than that, right? Except that manly Chris wanted to be a woman. So…maybe he and Bruce might have a few things in common.

Let’s keep an open mind while Jenner and others take their journey through transgendering. After all, if Jenner were my brother, dad, uncle, son or other loved one, all I’d want is for him to be happy, right?


Books Young Adult

Just Girls by Rachel Gold; when LGBT (Q?) Goes to College.


I want to tell you about my new fave book, Just Girls, by Rachel Gold.  The book is about a young girl who goes off to college.  While going to college is difficult enough, it is made even more difficult by Ella’s body. She was born in a boy’s body and now lives as a girl.  She’s transgendered.


Jess Tucker sticks her neck out for a stranger—the buzz is someone in the dorm is a trans girl. So Tucker says it’s her, even though it’s not, to stop the finger pointing. She was an out lesbian in high school, and she figures she can stare down whatever gets thrown her way in college. It can’t be that bad.
Ella Ramsey is making new friends at Freytag University, playing with on-campus gamers and enjoying her first year, but she’s rocked by the sight of a slur painted on someone else’s door. A slur clearly meant for her, if they’d only known.

New rules, old prejudices, personal courage, private fear. In this stunning follow-up to the groundbreaking Being Emily, Rachel Gold explores the brave, changing landscape where young women try to be Just Girls.

Check it out below.


I chatted with number 1 son because I wanted to make sure I was understanding the proper word usage regarding the LGBT community. His insight left me thinking  and I thought you might find interesting also.


What are your thoughts on gender identity?