As Banned Books Week draws to a close, I'd like to share with you some of my favorite banned/challenged books. In my 5+ years as a teacher of young adolescents, I'm glad to say I've not had to fight for the right to have a book available to my students, and I've even shared some of these with them! If you're interested in fighting this good literary fight, check out what the ALA has to say.
Three Beloved Classics:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Why? Deals very bluntly with racial issues. Rape. Profanity. (Seriously, who hasn't read this book, or at least seen the incredible movie?!)
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Why? Religious issues. Explicit sex, language, and violence.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The ultimate book about banning books!
Why? Rebellion. Frightening images of totalitarian dystopia.Warnings of censorship.
New Classics for Young Adults
The Giver by Lois Lowry
This is quite possibly one of my all-time favorite books of YA Lit, because it was one of the first sci-fi books I ever read. And it led me to my love of dystopian science fiction. :)
Why? References to euthanasia and suicide. Frightening images for younger children.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Yes, I love this series. I've read them over and over again. I don't care if certain connoisseurs of "real fantasy" consider it trite. It's been a very enjoyable read for my students and me for years. Plus I've actually done lit analysis of some of the books, and found some good writing and allusions within.
Why? Witchcraft and wizardry. Need you look any further? It was pretty bad here in the "Bible Belt."
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Yes, seriously, the book of silly poems by the beloved children's poet.
Why? Because it encouraged children to ignore their parents and not do their chores. For real!
Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes
This book makes me cry every time I read it. It's great for adolescents dealing with loss/death for the first time. I don't get why it's been challenged. It's a very real book. Maybe that's why.
Why? Children dealing with the harsh reality of sudden death and social isolation. Kissing. Complex family issues.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Another one of the books that never fails to pull a strong emotional reaction from me every time I read it! It's so moving, and I think more people need to be aware of books like this that might help teens and even adults deal with serious issues.
Why? The book deals with the aftermath of a rape. Very frankly. It's a sensitive subject.
Go out and read a book. Maybe even one that might make you think. And talk. And open your mind!!
"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them."
- Ray Bradbury