Archive for October 15th, 2007

Books are made for reading…

…and learning…and cracking open our minds to the myriad possibilities in this world and the glorious variety of folks that live in it.  How’s that for a deep thought?  Jack Handey ought to be proud…or indifferent.  One or the other.  🙂

Now before anyone gets huffy, I know that officially, Banned Books Week only lasts, um…a week.  I, however, am of the opinion that every week is banned books week.  Challenges happen every day.  Today it’s a book, tomorrow it’s a song lyric, or a picture, or an idea.  Celebrate your freedom to read every single day…the books will be here for you!

That said, a few coworkers and I would like to share some favorites: 



Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. 

One of my favorite banned books is Speak, the story of Melinda Sordino, a young woman starting her freshman year of high school.  That first year is hard enough, but on top if it all, she is an outcast…a pariah…all because of what happened at the senior’s party that summer.  Yeah, she called the cops…yes, some people got arrested…and now her former friends hate her.  She is shunned by everyone at school.  When she tries to talk, even to teachers, her voice freezes up or she starts to stutter.  It’s easier to stay inside her head, silent – mute.  There’s nothing to say, anyway…at least not until she can say what really happened that night…. Melinda’s inner monologue narrates the novel as she struggles to accept what happened at the party and the aftermath. 

When I first started reading this book, I was curious how the author would tell the story without the main character speaking.  Anderson puts you in Melinda’s head and you can’t help but be drawn in.  It made me think of what I might have done in the same situation… 

Missy, Assistant Youth Services Coordinator, Headquarters Library 

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. 2000 Michael L. Printz Honor Book. Often censored because it tells of a rape of the protagonist, Melinda Sordino, and she mentions self-harm. According to Anderson, in almost all the challenges she has heard about, the book remained in the curriculum. In two districts, it was taken out of the curriculum, but remained an option for independent reading.

Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden 

I’ve already reviewed this book here, and just wanted to share some of the challenges that the book has faced over the years. – Missy 

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden. 2003 Margaret A. Edwards Award Winner. Frequently attacked on the grounds that it promotes, idealizes, or encourages homosexuality, it disappeared from two high school libraries in San Ramon, California in 1991; it was discovered later that the vice principal took the books from the libraries to examine them. In 1994, in Chanute, Kansas, after a challenge, students had to have written parental permission as it was stored on a limited-access shelf. Currently, Annie on My Mind is one of the 55 books in Fayetteville, Arkansas, that parents in a group called Parents Protecting the Minds of Children are petitioning to have removed from the school libraries.


Wide Awake by David Levithan 

Wide Awake is set in the near future. A gay Jewish man has been elected President, and the governor of Kansas is not happy about it. He is doing everything in his power to get the election results changed, and 17-year-old Duncan, a gay Jewish man himself, decides to do something about it. He and his friends (some of whom call themselves “Jesus Freaks,”) embark on a road trip to Kansas to show support for the rightful candidate.  

I really liked this book because the characters are compassionate, thoughtful, and mature. They do what is needed to fight for their beliefs without hurting anyone in the process. They really grow as people.  

Vicki, librarian, Hope Mills Branch  


The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger 

A classic. Seventeen-year-old Holden Caulfield ditches his prep school and heads for New York City. Many adventures ensue while he sorts out his life drama, including a meeting with a hooker.

Holden is possibly the coolest book character ever. The first sentence pretty much says it all: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” How can you not love that? 

Vicki, Librarian, Hope Mills Branch 

Catcher in the Rye. J.D. Salinger. Published in 1951, this immediate best seller almost simultaneously became a popular target of censorship. Some reasons have included “centered around negative activity,” “blasphemous and undermines morality,” “unacceptable” and “obscene.” A 1991-92 study by the People for the American Way found that the novel was among those most likely to be censored based on the fact that it is “anti-Christian.” Challenged by Concerned Citizens of Florida who wanted the book removed from a high school library (1991) in Leesburg, Florida due to “profanity, reference to suicide, vulgarity, disrespect, and anti-Christian sentiments.” They were unsucessful: a review committee voted unanimously to retain the book.   Other documentation may be found here.












A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.


My favorite banned book is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. My fifth grade teacher would read to us everyday after lunch and she read us this book. She ignited my love for literature. I loved reading so much that when every other basketball player was volunteering to work in the gym or the office I opted for the library so that I could read when I wanted. It is remarkable what people remember; of all the books Mrs. Covan read to us, I still remember A Wrinkle in Time.

Rita, Library Associate II, Hope Mills Branch 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. 1998 Margaret A. Edwards Award Winner. A parent filed a complaint in a Polk City, Florida, Elementary School, believing the story promoted witchcraft, crystal balls, and demons. Other complaints included listing the name Jesus Christ with names of great artists, philosophers, scientists and religious leaders. Another complaint was that it undermined religious beliefs.

Keep reading and keep thinking, folks.



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