Bookish Discussions

Banned Book Week

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Source: Google search

This week is Banned Books Week and after looking over all the lists of banned and/or challenged books, I’ve decided to focus on five that really shaped me as a reader in my childhood. I was fortunate that my tiny, small town library never prevented kids from reading books and I guess my school was more progressive than I gave it credit for. These five were on the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books for the years 2000-2009 according to The American Library Association.

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Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry. I devoured each and every one in the series and identified with Anastasia’s pre-teen behavior and thoughts. I guess some schools did not like her “precocious” behavior like stuffing her bra for example. Well, lock up all girls from 10-15 then. Wow!

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson was the first book I read that made it ok for girls to be friends with boys without any slight romantic element. I had many male friends growing up and this book made me feel normal for wanting to hang with the guys. It also was my first experience with death and I will forever remember trying so hard not to cry. And then bawling into my pillow. Banned for: swearing, witchcraft, talks of religion and child death.

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The Giver by Lois Lowry  was the first science fiction/dystopian novel that I truly enjoyed. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was great but The Giver was mind-blowing. It’s one of the most challenged/banned books (just below Mockingbird) for offensive language, violence, sexually explicit and religious viewpoints. Ya know what? I didn’t even pick up on any of that in my youth. I just couldn’t believe there was such a brilliant writer who could create an alternate world and like I said, blow my mind. AND she also wrote the Anastasia Krupnik series! Fangirl central for Lowry!

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To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Do we even need to discuss this? One of the most challenged/banned books for racial elements, language, violence, rape…the list goes on. Most of us read it in high school, I gather. I wasn’t looking for “safe” at that point in my reading career and welcomed every last bit of it. I can’t remember another book in high school that was required reading I loved as much.

Oh, yes…one more from HS…Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. It’s been flagged for over 50 years for offensive language, violence and racial themes but again a book that I couldn’t put down in HS. It was so beautifully written covering The Great Depression, friendship, mental illness and the racial divide. Come to think of it, many of Steinbeck’s novels are “flagged” as inappropriate.

These five books really shaped me as a reader growing up (along with many others) and I can say for certain that I am thankful for open minded parents, supportive teachers and librarians who never prevented, shamed or stunted my love for reading.

Which banned/challenged books are some of your favorites?

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4 thoughts on “Banned Book Week

  1. It’s been long enough since I’ve been in school that I hardly remember if I read banned books. I guess I was lucky in the way you were. I do remember Judy Blume and then in high school Go Ask Alice. I didn’t read Of Mice and Men until college but still remember its power.

  2. For me you can’t look at highly influential and important children’s books that were banned without looking at Judy Blume. My whole life may have been very different without her. And as for Bridge to Tarabithia – one of the best books ever. I can remember reading it is school when I was about 10. I can’t wait for daughter to read it.

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