By Guest Blogger and Bookmans Enthusiast, Megan Maiden
Every year, the American Library Association releases a list of The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books. These are titles that were forced to be removed from libraries and schools for various reasons. Like most rebellious children, I never liked being told what to do. I never liked being told that I couldn’t watch a certain kind of movie, couldn’t listen to a certain kind of music or couldn’t read a certain kind of book. “Don’t tell me what I can’t read!” I would screech while causing a scene at the public library. Nothing has ever stopped me from reading what I wanted, whether it was appropriate or not (says the girl that used the novelization of Sleeping with the Enemy for her 4th grade book report). Bookmans opposes censorship of any kind all year, but September is #ArrestedReading Month which includes Banned Book Selfies, Blind Dates with Banned Books and a pretty all-around awesome Fight Censorship campaign. Fighting censorship is never about cramming scandal down people’s throats, but instead about allowing people to read whatever interests them. Banned books, shmanned books! Today, we are highlighting banned books for every age.
Early readers: Junie B. Jones lands on the challenged list due to her rude, authority-challenging attitude. I adore Junie B.! These books are funny for the kids and for parents who have to read them over and over again. Kids identify with a character who makes mistakes and thinks she knows it all because real life kids do those things too. I highly recommend these books to anyone looking to get kids to read on their own.
Pre-Teens: HARRY POTTER! Of course Harry Potter is a banned book, because witchcraft. I am an adult who adores the series and I’m not ashamed. I hope that someday my children will read this at the age for which it’s intended. The Harry Potter books are a wonderful series full of magic, adventure, courage, friendship, loyalty, good vs evil, grief, loss and triumph.
Teens: Perks of Being a Wallflower is a wonderfully written book that deals with dark themes (depression, sexual abuse, loneliness) but is written in a way that isn’t pitying or self deprecating. Here’s another book that I read as an adult and wish I could time machine to my younger self to add this to her resources. This book surprised me and stuck with me since I read it. I can only imagine the effect it has on the generation it’s intended for.
[Editor’s Note: Stephen Chbosky is also a generous and patient writer who respects his readers.]
College: A Handmaid’s Tale, set in an anti-feminist, fascist future where women are reduced to servant classes, causes a stir due to sexual overtones and anti-religious views. A personal favorite, this book is an excellent conversation piece for every college student with STRONG OPINIONS about the state of the world and what’s coming around the bend.
All Ages: Those scamps who designed the Where’s Waldo books got in hot water with a beach scene that depicts a topless sunbather. It literally took me years to find the image and even then it is always a hunt when I want to show someone else. (Never could find Waldo, but a topless cartoon?! It’s right there!) Prudes rejoice! The publisher covers up the free spirit in reprints.
• Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret — Be advised that the older copies of this book include antiquated language about feminine hygiene products that is confusing if you don’t know what the heck you’re reading about.
• Catcher In the Rye — MUST be read at the appropriate age, once you reach your 20s, this kid just needs to get a job.
Pick up one of these books and share it with a rebellious reader you know. Banned Books Week starts the conversation about books that have been challenged or banned from school libraries. Bookmans kicks it up a notch with their annual Fight Censorship campaign. You like what you like and Bookmans wants to hear what that is. Share your favorite subversive read in the comments below or on social media with the hashtag, #ArrestedReading.
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