In the year 2016 it seems completely preposterous that we’re still talking about books that have been banned, challenged or censored. With nudity and profanity on almost every television ad, magazine cover or roadside billboard, literature shouldn’t be what we focus on when trying to shelter our youth from inappropriate content. A 2014 study released by the Office for Intellectual Freedom showed that “offensive language”, “sexually explicit content” and a general “unsuitability for age group” were the top three reasons behind challenged books. All three of these things could be said about any video game, movie, comic book, or music album. Not to mention the things kids hear out of each others’ mouths. Where do we draw the line in what we allow in schools, libraries or on our own shelves?
Among 24 other reasons for being challenged, “homosexual content” was number seven. While we respect every parents decision to monitor what their child reads, the importance of having access to materials that relate to sexuality, at a very integral time in finding who they are, is a big deal. We all remember what it’s like to be in elementary, middle and high school. Not only balancing school work with family and friends, there’s the daunting task of figuring out who you are as an individual.
Sure, we’re a book store, so we’re biased, but we want all readers to find solace and comfort in the pages of a book. When titles go through the process of being challenged and removed from shelves, we lose access to vital content. As we celebrate censorship awareness this month we want to highlight some titles we consider to be the best among challenged Young Adult Fiction, laden with what is classified as “homosexual content.” These are great reads with much more to their stories than same-gender love. They’re coming of age tales that will bring tears to your eyes, let laughter erupt from your lips and bring an understanding to those who are just trying to figure it out.