Category Archives: Books and Reading!

Book Reviews, Reflections on Reading, all things reader/book related!

#BannedBooksWeek: The Kite Runner


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It’s been quite a while since I read The Kite Runner, but was intrigued when I saw it on this years top ten list. According to the ALA Field Report there were some challenges that resulted in the book remaining on  the school reading lists, but there were some where the book was removed from the list (and not even offered as an alternate reading). 

This is not the first year that The Kite Runner has made the list. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund put together a good article about the decision to pull this book this year — and it is noted in the ALA field report that “Students spoke up about the censorship and as a result, the administration shut down the high school newspaper.”

One of the things that is highlighted about this is the process that is used in deciding if a book is going to be pulled from curriculum or from the library shelves. As noted in the CBLDF article, sometimes it comes down to an individual to make the call (such as the superintendent), which allows for a lot of individual bias to come into play.  Especially when you look at the numbers of who is bringing these challenges.

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Library patrons and Parents are the largest groups of challengers, but 14% of challenges are brought by Boards or administrations.  That’s more than Librarians, teachers, political and religious groups, elected officials and students COMBINED.

While we’re looking at the numbers… the vast majority (over half) of all Challenges take place within public libraries.  These also seem to be the ones that we hear a lot less about, perhaps because there isn’t the same level of reaction that we see when a book is challenged in a school.

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I can’t help but reflect on how strong the voices of students have been in the past year (and before) when it comes to standing up for their rights, and against things that are wrong in our world… and it makes me wonder if the fact that we hear about so many of the challenges within schools is tied to this phenomenon. Students are raising their voices. Speaking out when they see injustice – I hope we continue to foster this in our younger generations.

(My apologies if this is a bit of an all-over-the-place post. That’s what you get when I end up writing before my morning coffee!)

Are you going to be writing about Banned Books this week? Feel free to share your posts on this Linky-List!

 

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#BannedBooksWeek: This One Summer

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This book had been on my “To Read” list for a while, since it appeared on a Banned Books List a few years ago. But it took me until this year to actually pick it up and read it. I’ll admit, I wasn’t wowwed. It was good, but I had a hard time really connecting with the characters. Maybe it’s because I haven’t read a lot of Graphic Novels – it’s generally not a medium that I connect to as well (when it comes to more serious matters. I love it for light and fun reading). It was a good enough book, but not one I really found myself drawn to. But, just because I didn’t particularly enjoy it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great book for some, and certainly doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be made available! Intended for ages 12+ it seemed a perfectly reasonable book for that age group.

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.  – summary from Goodreads

This One Summer was on the top 10 banned list for 2016.  The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has a good article about the challenges to this book, making note that the fact it received a Caldocott Award may have contributed to some of the negative attention it recieved, “A few people, believing the book is aimed at younger readers because it is a Caldecott Honor Book, have been shocked to find that the award winning graphic novel is intended for audiences age 12 and up. Instead of acknowledging their responsibility for knowing the content of a book before purchasing it, some of these people have instead attacked the book, calling for its removal.”

Check out the Office of Intellectual Freedom write-up about This One Summer, and the challenges to it.

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Are you going to be writing about Banned Books this week? Feel free to share your posts on this Linky-List!

#BannedBooksWeek: The Hate U Give

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With a movie coming out soon, this book has garnered additional attention lately. I had been intending to read it anyhow, and finally got myself off of the wait-list for the ebook from the library.

I really, really, enjoyed this book. Yes, it deals with a very difficult topic. Yes, there is swearing in it. Yes, there is reference to drugs, there is violence…. And yes, these are all realities. And it deals with very timely, relevant issues.
Angie Thomas did a stellar job painting a picture of Starr’s life, drawing us into a world. A world very different from the one I live in, and an important one for all of us to glimpse.

The story summary, from Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

This book was banned in a school district in Texas which led to a flurry of activity on Twitter. This included some teachers speaking out, and the twitter conversation led to people working to get the book into that area as best they could, delivering it to Free Libraries in the area and donating to public libraries.
A South Carolina police union was looking to remove the book from a recommended reading list.

Reasons given for people wanting to ban this book tend to be based on the “language,” “drug use,” and “vulgarity.” I find these reasons to be pretty ridiculous, and highly recommend that you read this book – and then share it with someone else to read.

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More Articles about The Hate U Give:
An article about what teachers can do when they discover books have been removed from the shelves of their schools.
More about the banning of The Hate U Give
Angie Thomas on YA Fiction, Being Black in America and More
Angie Thomas: Burn It All Down or Use Those Emotions in My Art
‘The Hate U Give’ Explores Racism and Police Violence
The Hate She Received: Why the Banning of Angie Thomas’ Book was an Insult to the Black Lives Matter Movement.

An update from the author during banned Books week!

Are you going to be writing about Banned Books this week? Feel free to share your posts on this Linky-List!

#BannedBooksWeek: #DearBannedAuthor

This year, let’s send authors of banned books clear support. The Dear Banned Author program encourages us all to write notes to those authors whose works have impacted us, and who have been banned and challenged over the years.Copy of Dear Banned Author (3)_1

There is a spreadsheet of authors, with addresses and twitter tags, so you can reach out to the author(s) you’ve read and enjoyed.

I am hoping to write a few letters myself. Even if you find that the words aren’t quite coming together for a full letter, you could send a tweet – or even just a postcard! The American Library Association has a few downloads to help with this – you can print out a postcard, write a simple message and put it in the mail!
If you’re tweeting be sure to use the hashtag: #DearBannedAuthor – this helps that ALA find the posts!
Let’s show these authors some love!

 

Are you going to be writing about Banned Books this week? Feel free to share your posts on this Linky-List!

#BannedBooksWeek: Revisiting George.

BBW18PosterGeorge, by Alex Gino reappeared on the top ten list of banned and challenged books this year. I really enjoyed this story when I read it last year, and was pleased to see that Oregon included it in their Battle of the Books list this year.

But then… then a few school district decided to not participate in the Battle of the Books because of the book. George is about a 4th grader, and the decision to opt out of the ENTIRE Battle of the Books was made by a handful of administrators in the district. Here’s the thing – they said it was because 3rd graders were too young to read this type of content… but it’s a completely optional program, and not all kids read all the books – the excuse for removing themselves from the competition (one that has the goal of exposing children to quality literature and is divided into three groups: 3rd through 5th, 6th through 8th, and 9th through 12th) seems very thin, at best.

The Office of Intellectual Freedom put together a good Blog Post about this book.

Article about the Library Associations support of the inclusion of George in OBOB

More reading about George

Are you going to be writing about Banned Books this week? Feel free to share your posts on this Linky-List!

Welcome to #BannedBooksWeek 2018

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This year I’ll be doing a mix of things. There will be a few reviews, a few reflections on articles I’ve come across in the past year, and I’m hoping to participate in the “Dear Banned Author” program.

Will you join me?

All week long I’ll be posting about Banned Books — and every post will include a link to a linky-list where you can share links to your own Banned Book blog posts!

Let’s begin with a look at the top ten Banned Books for 2017!  This years list includes some old “favorites,” and some newcomers!

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[Top Ten Challenged Books of 2017.  The American Library Association tracked 354 challenges to library, school and university materials and services in 2017. Of the 416 books that were challenged or banned in 2017, here are the top 10 most challenged:

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. Reason: Suicide.
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. Reasons: profanity, sexually explicit.
  3. Drama, by Raina Telgemeier. Reason: LGBT content.
  4. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. Reasons: sexual violence, religious themes, “may lead to terrorism”
  5. George, by Alex Gino. Reason: LGBT content.
  6. Sex is a Funny Word, by Cory Silverberg. Reason: sex education.
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Reasons: violence, racial slurs.
  8. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. Reasons: drug use, profanity, “pervasively vulgar.”
  9. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson. Reason: LGBT Content.
  10. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings. Reason: gender identity.]

The theme of Banned Book Week this year is “Banning Books Silences Stories. Speak Out!” A particularly important point this year, looking at the stories that are being told in the books that were most frequently challenged this past year.

Of the books on this list I have read 6, and am on the wait list for one, and just got off the wait-list for one more. One I read AGES ago and kind of want to reread, one I couldn’t get at my library but completely intend to read, and one I have no plans to read.  Are you familiar with some of these books?

Are you going to be writing about Banned Books this week? Feel free to share your posts on this Linky-List!

#AmReading – Book Review Time! Comics!

Lumberjanes Volume 1Beware the Kitten Holy

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A fun read – I enjoy the personalities of the different characters and really want to find out what happens next.  I totally planned to stock up on more of these books for during my surgery recovery, but it didn’t happen… guess I’ll just have to get them now!

Challenge: A Comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image

 

Ms. Marvel Volume 1 – No Normal

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Trying to expand my reading into graphic novels and comics a bit — this story was recommended by another friend of mine. Not having really read much else in the super-hero world, I found myself loving this story! The concept that she is a new version of this superhero — and finding a way to embody her own superhero identity was spectacular. I’m looking forward to reading more!

 

Phoebe and her Unicorn: In The Magic Storm

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By Dana Simpson

I kind of adored the first “Phoebe and Her Unicorn” story, so decided this one was worth a read. Unfortunately, it’s totally out of order, and it’s been a long time since I read the first one, so I seem to have missed some story development in between. Putting that aside, I really enjoyed this story – and look forward to picking up some of the books in-between to flesh out the story a bit more. The Unicorn and Phoebe’s interactions just always make me laugh.