Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides Us: Celebrating Banned Books 9/26 – 10/2/2021

Banned Book Week focuses our attention on attempts across the US to remove or restrict access to books. If this is your first time reading about Banned Book Week, you might want to head over to the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) where they compile and post lists of challenged books. The OIF gathers information on these books three ways – collecting information from media reports and also using information submitted by librarians and teachers across the US.

The Top 10 Challenged Books of 2020 are:

George by Alex Gino. Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community.”

Sue here: I absolutely loved this book. Yes, there are uncomfortable moments but this is a highly realistic book.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds. Banned and challenged because of the author’s public statements and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people.

Sue here: This is the book for young readers. I am reading Stamped from the Beginning by Abram Kendi. I have read the above title yet.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism and because it was thought to promote antipolice views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now.”

Sue here: This was another powerful, amazing book. There is so much Truth contained in this fictional story.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint, it was claimed to be biased against male students, and it included rape and profanity.

Sue here: It has been a very long time since I read this book but it too is powerful and a book I would recommend.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of the author.

Sue here: Another favorite. Have they book looking in my reading notebook?

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin. Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote antipolice views.

Sue here: And this is another one I’ve read.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience.

Sue here: Interesting to me that of all the older titles out there, this is one of two garnering attention. This was one of my son’s favorite books from his high school lit class.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes and their negative effect on students.

Sue here: Racism and anti-racism can both bring down a ban.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Challenged for profanity, and because it was thought to promote an antipolice message.

Sue here: Another really powerful book. My niece beat me to this one – you have got to read this! And she was right. I’m just glad she was able to get ahold of it.

To say a book should not be banned is not the same as saying that it is right for every reader. Matching books to readers is a skill. I guess some people find it easier to hide ideas away. I hope you’ll request one of these titles from your library today.

–SueBE