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:
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.
- 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.
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:
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee;
- Geography Club by Brent Hartinger;
- The Giver by Lois Lowry;
- The Story of Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman, Christopher H. Bing (Illus.);
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison;
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley;
- Forever by Judy Blume;
- Harry Potter and the sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling;
- We by Yevgeny Zamyatin; and
- 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.
Just do it.
There . . . that's much better.