Every year, the American Library Association sets aside a week to celebrate the books that have been challenged or banned in our nation’s schools and libraries. Books are challenged or removed from libraries for many reasons, including (but not limited to!) sexual content, violence, religious viewpoint, offensive language, and unsuitability for the targeted age group. These are only a few of the reasons books are challenged – there are plenty more, including a ton of wacky ones that don’t even make sense.
In honor of Banned Books Week, I’m going to take a cue from my friend and coworker Lindsey by listing my top ten favorite banned books (in no particular order because I suck at ranking). If you’re anything like me, when a book is challenged, that just makes you want to read it more. Am I right? The books listed below are some of my all-time favorites – funny, important, challenging, and lovely.
1. 1984 – George Orwell
2. Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling
3. Scary Stories series – Alvin Schwartz
4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
5. The Giver – Lois Lowry
6. Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson
7. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
8. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeline L’Engle
9. Goosebumps series – R. L. Stine
10. And Tango Makes Three – Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell
I remember reading most of these during some very formative periods of my life. The waves of nostalgia make me think of so many memories connected to these books. Spending the long, dark evenings before Halloween scaring myself with the Scary Stories and Goosebumps series. Reading and rereading Harry Potter as a comfort novel when my life felt bad. Using Speak to help me understand how a close friend was feeling as she opened up about the abuse she suffered in her childhood. These are the books I have read and reread multiple times, the books I go back to for comfort and a sense of safety. As a reader and librarian, it makes me sad when parents or others want to restrict access to these books. Just as they have been lifelines to me over the years, they can be lifelines to others who need them in a moment of hardship. And no one should have the right to deny someone else access to that.
Banned Books Week Links and Resources: