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.
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!
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.