Banned Books Week begins on September 26th to serve as our yearly reminder that books and book series are challenged and sometimes entirely removed from schools and libraries nationwide. These stories come under fire for various reasons, including uncomfortable subject matter, vulgar language, or even public statements from the authors.
New and old books are challenged each year, and 2020 was no different. These are just 5 of the books to hold such a dubious distinction that are available in our collection.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Even the remarkable Toni Morrison is no stranger to Banned Book Week. This 50-year-old title tells the story of Pecola as she struggles with her identity as a black girl in a society that cherishes girls with blond hair and blue eyes. This story explores Pecola’s life as she grows up in a household where her parents constantly fight, being bullied by society, being raped, and living with a foster family. The Bluest Eye is the 9th most challenged book in the US and was first banned in Montgomery County, Maryland in 1998 for scenes considered sexually explicit, its depiction of child abuse, and disturbing language.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
Written from multiple perspectives, All American Boys revolves around the reactions of students, a town, and a nation after a police officer brutally assaults a black teenager he mistakes as a thief. This book focuses on police brutality, white privilege, and racism that reflects the current situation in America. This YA title found its way to the challenged list this year for profanity, drug use, alcoholism, and for topics considered divisive.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This coming-of-age story revolves around Scout, a young girl growing up in the South as she begins to learn about racism when her father, a lawyer, represents a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. This book has been challenged in school districts since the 1960’s due to racial slur and depictions of sexual assault, the prominence of a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience through the writing of a white author.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
Written by Jason Reynolds and based off of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s national award winning Stamped from the Beginning this book uncovers and discredits racist ideas throughout American history. Written as a narrative (and disclaimed as not trying to be a history book) Stamped takes readers through a journey on how racism has prevailed in the country, and what readers can do to work on undoing those ideas to create an anti-racist future. This book came out last April and it is one of the newest entries on the list when a parent in Round Rock, Texas filed several complaints to have the book banned in their child’s school district for alleged “inappropriate instruction material” and from controversial comments by its author.
George by Alex Gino
For the third year in a row, this Junior Fiction story tops the list for its LGBTQIA+ content and language considered inappropriate for children. George follows the story of a girl, Melissa, who everyone thinks is a boy named George, as she creates a plan to play Charlotte in her school’s production of Charlotte’s Web. This book was initially challenged by the Wichita, Kansas public school district when the district’s libraries were prevented from buying copies of the book.
To find out what the big hubbub is on some of these books and more, check them out at the library or visit cloudLibrary to see our Banned Books Week shelf. Celebrate Banned Books Week by picking one of them up today, and share it online by tagging the library @bucksctylib
For more information about banned books check out some of these resources! To find more information, including the complete list of challenged material, visit the official Banned Books Week website: https://bannedbooksweek.org/.
How Do Books Get Banned? https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/banned-books-qa
11 Books Banned for Completely Ridiculous Reasons: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/11-books-that-were-banned-for-completely-ridiculous-reasons/