Banned Books week (September 24 - 30) is coming up soon, and because I like to be prepared I started reading some books that have been known to be challenged and/or banned.
Here are the books I've read so far:
YA FICTION ALEXIE,S Lexile: 600
-Was voted the #3 most challenged book in 2013 out of 307 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
-Was voted the #1 most challenged book in 2014 out of 311 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
-Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, anti-family, cultural insensitivity, gambling, sex education, violence and “depictions of bullying”
*My thoughts: It's serious, it's funny, it's gutwrenchingly sad, it's poignant, it's weird, it's moody, it's sardonic and sarcastic at times. It's a fantastic novel to read. The protagonist is resilient in his hope for a better future for himself and for those that he loves. He's brave, braver than he really realized in the beginning. He did the thing that no other Spokane did on his reservation. He left. He left to go to a different school. A white school. He left so he could have an education and not study from 30 year old books. Thirty year old books that his parents had. I like this book because it's cathartic and that's what I like. I like closing a book, holding it to my chest and breathing deeply. I just went through an emotional time with a character. I know this character and I know myself a little more. I recommend this because it's a great book. The writing is well done and you really begin to relate to the protagonist and even the other characters. You learn a little more about yourself and about Alexie, the author. It's un-apologetically honest. That's what I love about this book.
YA SCIFI COLLINS Lexile: 800 - 820
-Was voted the #5 most challenged book in 2013 out of 307 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
-Reasons: religious viewpoint and unsuited to age group
*My thoughts: Here’s why I loved reading this series. It’s harsh, cruel and pushes you and the characters emotionally and mentally. It’s not just Katniss who’s surviving, we all are surviving in our own ways. Sure we may not be going through the Hunger Games exactly, but we all have our own challenges. Life isn’t always going to be easy, sometimes you will have to fight like hell to protect who and what you can. Katniss shows us her resilience to survive and to protect those she loves. She inspires us, she inspires me. I honestly can say that these three books are an important read for many reasons, but I’ll give you two: 1.) It shows that we are tougher than we think we are 2.) We can accomplish anything if we ALL work together towards one common goal.
YA FICTION GREEN,J Lexile: 850
-Was voted the #7 most challenged book in 2013 out of 307 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
-Was voted the #1 most challenged book in 2015 out of 275 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
-Was voted the #6 most challenged book in 2016 out of 323 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
-Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, unsuited to age group, offensive language and challenged for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation”
*My thoughts: What's striking to me about Looking for Alaska is the phrase, "I go to seek a Great Perhaps". That keeps playing over in my mind. As it should since it's the main element of the book. It's about Miles or better known as Pudge, seeking his own Great Perhaps at Culver Creek. Away from his parents. What he finds is more questions than he bargains for and he really wrestles with the notion of "a Great Perhaps" and how will he be able to escape the labyrinth (that is the suffering of life). What I liked about this book is the clarity in which Dr. Hyde spoke. He was my favorite character because he gave direction to the amorphous and all encompassing subject matter that most people think about at one time or another in their lives (mostly as an adult). And he's teaching it to a bunch of teenagers! What is a Great Perhaps you ask? I suppose for everyone it's different. For Miles it was getting away fto seek his own adventures and memories. For the Colonel, it's looking forward to his future and the moment he can take his mother out of the trailer park. For Alaska, it was trying to not fail and always take action, live in the moment so to speak. Or at least, that's what we can only assume. To simply state it, this book makes you think about what your own Great Perhaps will involve and with the Great Perhaps, there's hope.
YA FICTION CHBOSKY Lexile: 720
-Was voted the #8 most challenged book in 2013 out of 307 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
-Was voted the #8 most challenged book in 2014 out of 311 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
-Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, offensive language and “date rape and masturbation”
*My thoughts: I like the format that it was written in. The text was written in the format of a letter to an unknown person from Charlie, and he's telling this person everything going on in his life. Good and bad, during his first year in high school. While there was some tragedy in Charlie's life, he managed to find the support through his friends, eventually his family and then finally with his doctor in the hospital. This story was moody, broody and at times messed up... but it makes you think and reflect on your own feelings along the way. Charlie is learning to be in the moment instead of being a wallflower (not to say being a wallflower is a bad thing). Just don't be a wallflower in your own life. You need to live your life. I think that's the ultimate takeaway from this is that you need to live your life for you and not be a wallflower in your own life. I can appreciate that as a reader and that Chbosky is weaving this tale and coming out with this at the end. It's a beautiful ending.
YA BIO SATRAPI,M 2003-2004 Lexile: 380 - 500
-Was voted the #2 most challenged book in 2014 out of 311 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
-Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint, “politically, racially, and socially offensive” and “graphic depictions”
*My thoughts: Persepolis is about Marjane's childhood years in Iran and her teenage years in Austria and her early adulthood back in Iran. I've read both of the Persepolis books twice and each time I read them I appreciate them more and more. I think it's because of how relevant Marjane's story is, is why I appreciate it more each time I read it. She has experienced so much in her early life that sometimes it's hard to believe that they are in fact real events (which she brings up on occasion). But it goes to show you that the human spirit can withstand a lot more than we give it credit for. She shows us the depravity and horror that can come from humans in times of war, but she also shows the love and tenderness that come from humans too. Her story is heartwrenching, hard to process at times but also beautiful because she has lived through it and become stronger for it. It makes me really appreciate my own experiences, hard as they may have been, they were never as hard as hers. Sure, I've experienced what millions of children of military parents (who served during a war) have experienced, but it's nothing like actually living through a war. I can't imagine what she had gone through and what thousands of children, teens and adults have and are going through in countries still being ravaged by war and inner political turmoil. We still live in tenuous times and it's just nice to know that you're not alone in your experiences.
YA FICTION TELGEMEI Lexile: 320
-Was voted the #10 most challenged book in 2014 out of 311 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
-Was voted the #2 most challenged book in 2016 out of 323 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
-Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint
In Drama we meet Callie. She's a 7th grader at Eucalyptus Middle School and she loves theater! But she's not an actress, she's the set designer. Callie's best friend is Liz and she's the costume designer extraordinaire. Callie is crushing on Greg and has been for a long time, but Greg is dating Bonnie who's a real drama queen (pun definitely intended). And this year, the play that will be shown is Moon Over Mississippi. It's a busy year for Callie, and with her heart crushed by Greg she thought it was going to be a bummer of year... until she met the twins, Jesse and Justin. Turns out they're pretty cool, and with their help and enthusiasm along with her bestie, Liz, Callie ends up having a pretty fun year. Despite all the crazy set backs with the cannon, the play went off without a hitch... except for the last show. But despite the craziness that happened backstage, someone who you wouldn't think finally ends up shining in the spotlight and sparks a budding closeness with someone unexpected. I would say who it is, but it would ruin the surprise!
YA FICTION THIS Lexile: 300
-Was voted the #1 most challenged book in 2016 out of 323 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
-Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes
*My thoughts: This One Summer is a coming of age story about a girl who's spending her summer at her family's cabin, but this summer seems to be different than any other summer before. I think Tamaki did a great job in weaving an emotionally heartfelt and complex story into the graphic novel format. It wasn't overt but you could understand and pick up on the subtleties and nuances that were happening within the story among each character. The artwork itself is beautifully done throughout the book. I love the color palette of the cool blues and purples and how the artwork emphasized different aspects of the story.
***All data was acquired from ALA's website: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10#2013