what to read

2006 BBW; Read Banned Books: They're Your Ticket to Freedom
Now that we've established that this is a good week to read banned books, I'm sure you're dying to know what you should read. Here is this year's list of the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books:

  • It's Perfectly Normal for homosexuality, nudity, sex education, religious viewpoint, abortion and being unsuited to age group;
  • Forever by Judy Blume for sexual content and offensive language;
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger for sexual content, offensive language and being unsuited to age group;
  • The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier for sexual content and offensive language;
  • Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher for racism and offensive language;
  • Detour for Emmy by Marilyn Reynolds for sexual content;
  • What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones for sexual content and being unsuited to age group;
  • Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey for anti-family content, being unsuited to age group and violence;
  • Crazy Lady! by Jane Leslie Conly for offensive language; and
  • It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families by Robie H. Harris for sex education and sexual content.
Off the list this year, but on for several years past, are the Alice series of books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

Just because a book hits the Top Ten doesn't mean that these are your only choices. I mean, I've been trying to read Of Mice and Men since last year's Banned Books Week, but I just can't seem to get into it.

Fortunately, there are other lists out there. I only know this because one of my favorite authors wrote on his blog that his book was ranked second on the list. But Geography Club isn't anywhere on this list. That's how I discovered that Book Sense has their own list. (For those who don't know, Book Sense is the publication voice for the American Booksellers Association, which consists of all those really cool independent bookstores.) This is their list:
  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee;
  2. Geography Club by Brent Hartinger;
  3. The Giver by Lois Lowry;
  4. The Story of Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman, Christopher H. Bing (Illus.);
  5. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison;
  6. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley;
  7. Forever by Judy Blume;
  8. Harry Potter and the sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling;
  9. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin; and
  10. Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher.

If this still doesn't give you anything you really want to read, then go here to check out the 100 most frequently challenged books of the 90s.

Sigh. You're still not happy? Well, I'm sure there are other books that have been challenged that you can read. And even if there aren't, you can get started on some of the books that are sure to crop up on those lists in the next few years.

For example, you might want to start with David Levithan's new book (released just a couple weeks ago), Wide Awake. My review will be coming, well, sometime in the future. But let me say that I enjoyed this book, and I'm certain that it'll be making its way to the banned books lists. For starters, it takes place somewhere in the not-too-far-but-still-indeterminate future following the election of the country's first Jewish president. Who also happens to be gay. Of course, the election was close, so the governor of Kansas (a member of the opposition party) decides that his state is far too close (only one thousand votes) and he initiates a recount. All sorts of political commentary in this book (perhaps a little more than I like, as it brought out the angry political in me). Some of the "subversive" political plot might get the book challenged, but it will officially get challenged for the sixteen-year-old boy who has sex with his boyfriend. Regardless, good book.

Now, get to reading.



Come on.

Just do it.

There . . . that's much better.


Anonymous said...

ust a few comments.

First: Is the term "challenged" so that the process seems softer/more politically correct than banning?

Second: The only reason that I read The Catcher in the Rye in high school was because it was banned. Honestly, if I didn't know it was banned, I wouldn't have picked it up, or if I had, I wouldn't have kept on reading it. So perhaps the banning/challenging process give some literary significance to the books that they otherwise wouldn't have... like

Third: Captain Underpants. Really?! Those books are stupid, and exaggerated, and inappropriate, and disrespectful, and gross. Kids know they are stupid and exaggerated and inappropriate, and disrespectful, and gross. But, they also know that they are pretend, it's a form of escapism, a way to challenge the norm, to challenge authority without getting into trouble, and a way to laugh, to relieve pressure. Give kids a little credit, and let them be kids.

And Last: I am not saying that kids should be allowed to read any and every book, but I do think that parents should be actively involved in their children's reading selections, until they are teenagers, and then parents should at least be aware of the choices made. I also think that parents should teach their children in their own home to read with a critical eye, and then parents won't have to be afraid of what might be "out there" on the bookshelves in real life.

But, that is just me. And I am not a parent. So maybe I shouldn't have an opinion.

Master Fob said...

I haven't read It's Perfectly Normal, but I am reading Virtually Normal, which also talks about homosexuality. Does that count?

And to answer AMS's question, even though she's probably not checking for a response at this point, I believe challenging is a precursor to banning. There is a distinction.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Master Fob. I checked. But now will you be checking to see if I checked? :)

Master Fob said...