Banned Book Blog Party

 Banned Book week is here!

I dislike that such a thing needs to exist… but I welcome the chance to celebrate some of those books that I love, which have made their way to the Banned and Challenged books lists.  The freedom to read the books which call to you is important to me.  So I love the chance to participate in the Banned Book Blog Party, hosted by Hannah Givens.

No books have ever been “off-limits” to me.  I’ve spoken before about how one of our regular forms of entertainment was to go to the library.  Mom would let us run loose through the building, the only limitation on the books we checked out being, “will you really read them all before we come back?”  I would enter that place like someone stepping up to an oasis, thirsty to get as many books as I could.  And I would leave like someone departing for a long journey, arms loaded with books of all sorts.

When I began to develop an interest in Holocaust Literature (at a ridiculously young age), Mom did nothing to stop me.  She did, I would much later find out, read many of the books that I checked out, but never once told me I couldn’t check them out.  When I began to express interest in writing Mom let me read the romance novels my aunt had written, because here was a published author that I knew.  Perhaps some would have said the material was a little advanced for a middle-schooler, but that was no reason for me to not try — and it helped me immensely to be able to read something and say “My Aunt wrote this!”  Taking the author off the pedestal and making me realize they are real person, that it wasn’t an impossible dream.

And when I look at the lists of books that have been banned and challenges… so many of them are books that held such important places in my life.  I remember once, when I was in High School, writing a letter to the editor, which got printed in the Oregonian (the first time I saw my name in print, next to something I had written, in a non-school-related publication), in response to an article about a group trying to remove The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the curriculum.  The argument they made (as seems to be made often) was the use of “The N word.”  But I had just finished reading this in school, and the conversations we had around the book, the language used in the book, and what Mark Twain was saying with this book had been powerful conversations.

I perused the ALA list of the top 100 Banned/Challenged Books from 2000-2009, and these ones especially stood out at me:

  1. Harry Potter (Series), by J.K. Rowling
  2. And Tango Makes Three, by Justic Richardson/Peter Parnell
  3. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  4. His Dark Materials (series), by Phillip Pullman
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  6. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  8. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
  9. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  11. Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
  12. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
  13. Blubber, by Judy Blume
  14. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
  15. The Great GIlly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
  16. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
  17. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
  18. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
  19. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
  20. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
  21. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
  22. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
  23. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
  24. A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeline L’Engle
  25. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
  26. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
  27. Are You There God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume.

These books I list, not because I am surprised that they have all been banned or challenged… I knew that many of them were on that list (though there were a few surprised for me Junie B?  The Upstairs Room? The Things They Carried? What?!) but I am somewhat surprised that over 1/4 of the list of frequently challenged books in those years are ones that I have read — many of them ones I really love and that helped me in some way.  A few of these spark such memories for me, many I own, may even made the Big Move, and survived the purge of psychical-copy books because they were so important.  It makes me sad, downright sad, and more than a little upset, that someone, somewhere, believed that they were doing right by trying to keep others from reading these books.

Bit by bit through the rest of this week I’ll take some time to visit the ones that spoke most to me — why I think they’re good books, important books.


For now, here are some other places that are exploring the issue of Banned Books today:

Cindy Grigg, “These 19 Frequently Challenged Books might Surprise You – Banned Books Week 2014

Protecting “The Books That Will Never Be Written”: Judy Blume’s Fight Against Censorship.

Banned Book Week: And Tango Makes Three. Hannah Givens

Banning Books, Banning Voices: A Banned Book Week Post, Part Time Monster.

Powell’s Books list of Banned Books

Banned Book Week

ALA Banned Books Page

For a collection of many Banned Book Week Posts that were published during the week, check out the pinterest board!


13 thoughts on “Banned Book Blog Party

  1. I can’t believe that most of those books you listed were either banned or challenged! Right, I’m off to find Huck Finn and enjoy the childhood memory or reading it again! My dad loved reading and I had never heard of banned books growing up either. Seems almost ridiculous in this day and age. 🙂


    1. Enjoy reading it! I’m currently re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird (for the first time since 8th grade…and rereading the exact copy I had in 8th grade!) It’s a completely different book now 🙂 Will be writing about that on Thursday.


  2. I am gob smacked, “The Things They Carried? a great and vital work. Judy Blume? To Kill a Mockingbird? I learned about intercourse from a book called “The Reluctant Swap” that I found one day in a ditch, why is this level of Shice not banned? Goodness Gracious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Things They Carried was one of the ones that really surprised me. I read that two or three times in college (for class) and have it on my “Read again now!” list… so amazing, and such a great book for a writer to read too (unreliable narrator, so well done).


  3. Reblogged this on Things Matter and commented:
    Personal reminiscences about banned books from the wonderful Eclectic Alli. Later this week I’ll be talking about the only book I wasn’t allowed to read as a child, but in general my experience was the same — free reign in the library, read anything and everything, and I’ve always been grateful for that!


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