Category Archives: Banned Book Week

Reading in the New Year – 2018 Goals and Plans

A new year, a new set of reading goals!

As with all my goals this year I’m trying to put plans in place that will actually help me achieve them… last year was a real flop when it came to reading, and a super-flop when it came to writing about what I’d been reading.

There are a few things that I’m hoping will help me in my reading (and writing about reading) goals.

First, I’m only participating in a handful of challenges and events:

1515092626-1515092626_goodreads_misc I’ve signed up with the GoodReads challenge to read 75 books – I would love to say I’m going to read more, but I think 75 is a nice, relatively mellow, number to reach for.

ReadHarderChallenge2018-768x994 BookRiots Read Harder challenge has proven to be a challenge for me the past few years (the facebook group I run for a few of us trying to tackle it has reflected this with name-changes that are more and more insistent). But this year I’m taking a little bit of a different tactic. I’ve set up a Trello Board to help me keep track of what I’ve read (and make notes in when I have thoughts and such to contribute to blog posts). And I’ve already selected books to fit most of the categories. These are, of course, subject to change — but my hope is that by having options already listed I’m more likely to read them.

classicsclubThe Classics Club.  Oh, how I love the Classics Club – it’s such a fun group, with a great challenge.  But I kind of want to go back and time and talk some sense into the me that thought it was a good idea to put over 80 books on my Classics Club list.  80 Classics, in 5 years… really? I mean, it’s a nice thought – but reality has certainly gotten in the way.  But I’m going to strive to keep chugging away at this list (even though June 2019, my 5-year mark with the group, is coming up much faster than I’d like). In some cases my BookRiot challenge books have been selected because they’re on my Classics Club list 😀

And that is IT for Book Challenges. No matter what more I see, I’m sticking with these three — that’s enough pressure on myself! Especially for something that I am supposed to (and want to continue to) enjoy doing! There are, of course, some events that I hope to participate in as well — but even those I’m trying to keep limited.


NLW.FB.Cover.OIF.851x480When the Banned Book list comes out later this winter I’ll be taking a look at those books and selecting a few of them to read and write about for Banned Book Week in September. I’ve been participating in that for a long time, and have no plans to stop.  Depending on which ones make the top list for last year, I may go back to just picking some of the most-commonly-banned over the past couple years, or I may draw from the list of the year.  Either way – there’ll be banned book talk the whole week of Banned Book Week.

24hrreading2-thumb And, of course, there is Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon. This awesome event happens twice a year – in April and October.  Every year I put it on my calendar, and every year I end up scheduling something else in that time.  This year, though… I’m keeping that April date CLEAR. I can’t say about October (things at work start picking up around then), but I’ve got plans for April, and have already started to think about what books I might save for the day (and what snacks I might prepare).

…And because I’m SO GOOD at sticking to my plans… since last week when I wrote this I’ve added two reading challenges to my list.  One is the 50 Book pledge (because, really, I’m doing that anyhow – I signed up to read 75 books since that’s my GoodReads goal.

I’m also going to participate in some of the Bout of Books activities – I think that the semi-regular check-in and challenges there might help keep me on track.. we’ll see!

les_miserables_readalong_finalAnd then, this came along… the Les Miserables Chapter-a-day read-along…. So.. yeah, I’m going to try that because I WOULD like to get through Les Miserables again, and it WILL help complete that for Classics Club….

Adding to this, and of course with a few exceptions, I am trying to mostly make use of the library and books I already own. Mostly because I just have so darn many books, and am trying to minimize my book budget.

What are you looking forward to in the reading world this year?  Any exciting books you know are coming out? Any reading challenges you’re trying or events you’re looking forward to?


Banned Books Week: Eleanor and Park

I may be a little late with this one – but one final Banned Books week post!

eleanorparkThis is another book that has been challenged because it’s “Unsuited for age-level,” and it has been removed from a few locations (including one removal that was reconsidered when it was realized the objections were actually about fan art, and not the book itself).

The reasons vary – the one cited on the ALA list is because of its language, and you can’t deny that swearing is scattered about, like, a lot. The author, Rainbow Rowell addresses this point very nicely, and I have to agree with her assessment. The use of swearing was, first of all, very real. And second, helped to create the atmosphere that these kids were living in. It became a part of the stage setting.

I really liked the book – for a number of reasons but one of them was the unique approach to the point-of-view of the story. The narration switches between Eleanor and Park, sometimes for as short as a few sentences, other times a few pages. We see the world through both of their eyes, and to me it helped to draw me closer to the characters. And in some ways, my own self. As Eleanor sat hating certain things about herself, Park would ponder on the ways those same things drew him in. I wonder what it would have meant to me to read something like that when I was younger, to see the ways that the things I hold as my greatest flaws – the things I like least about myself – might be things that someone else would love.

There are so many articles about the banning of this book, challenges made to it, and responses.  Personally I find the idea of banning it from shelves due to the language to be ridiculous (what teenagers aren’t at least hearing swear words?), and if it was challenged due to harsh content – like topic of abuse – I feel it’s equally ridiculous. These are topics that teenagers DEAL with in their lives, how does pretending it doesn’t exist help anyone?

What are your thoughts?


Banned Books Week: George

George, by Alex Gino


“Be who you are. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.” (Goodreads)

This book has been awarded a Stonewall Award and a Lambda Literary award.  It tells about George, a fourth grade student who everyone thinks is a boy, but who knows she is a girl.  Told in a close perspective from George’s point of view, using female pronouns throughout the book, it follows George through a portion of her school year – a very small portion really.  But an important one, as she begins to actually share with her family and closest friends her true self.

This book has been banned and challenged because of the main character – a transgender child – and “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels.”

I loved this book, and I can imagine that it could be powerful for a kid to read it. For kids struggling to be able to express their true selves, regardless of what challenge may be getting in the way of that. And I can’t even begin to imagine how powerful it could be for a child who is struggling with being identified by the gender they were assigned at birth, when they know in their heart that they are not that gender, to be able to read a story about a kid like them.

I came across just a few articles about this book – one from NPR with a talk to Alex Gino, who speaks about the story, how they related to it, and how they would have named it differently now.

“If I were going to name [the book] now, I would not have done that,” Gino says. “Because it is the assigned name, not her chosen name. When I started the book in 2003, the name of the book was Girl George — which was clearly an homage to Boy George. And then when Scholastic got it, one of the first things they did was, they cut off ‘Girl’ because they wanted to open up the audience. And I didn’t even notice, in all of the things that happened, that I have effectively dead-named my main character.”

Office of Intellectual Freedom (American Library Association) Blog article on George.

Article from Christian Today talking about the reason behind one of the Challenges to George.

Banned Books Week – Looking Local

I decided to explore a little bit some of the censorship that happens right in my own backyard.  The Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse (OIFC) has some great resources, including a list of all library material challenges in Oregon going back to 1988 (the current list runs to June 30, 2017).

In the 2016-2017 academic calendar (July through June) there were 20 reported challenges in Oregon, from six different public libraries.  The challenges were to books, videos, magazines, and sound recordings.

“Included among the challenges are seven videos that a patron removed from a library’s shelves and hid inside the library. Library staff found some of the videos and purchased replacements for others, according to their Collection Development Policy. The videos all had LGBT+ characters featured in the cover art. The Library Director identified the patron and learned that they were hiding the videos in an attempt to restrict other patrons’ access to LGBT+ films and prevent “potential harm” to children. The Library Director explained the library’s collection development policy, responsibility to represent diversity, and non-endorsement of materials/ideas in the collection to the patron. According to the library’s Code of Conduct, the patron was trespassed for six months.” (OIFC Annual Report)

What’s interesting to look at with some of these challenges is that the challenges come from many different viewpoints.  For example, the movie “2 Days in Paris” was challenged by a patron due to “anti-gay content.” While the movie “Beautiful Things” was included in the incident mentioned above, where a patron objected to the LGBT content.

The books that made it onto the challenged list in Oregon this year?

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, by Clair Legrand
Objection: Violence (Patron asked it to be moved from the juvenile section to the teen section due to the content and themes).
Outcome: Retained.

George, by Alex Gino
Objection: Sexual (unsuited to age)
Outcome: Retained

Pretty Little Liars: Ali’s Pretty Little Lies. By Sara Shepard
Objection: Values (offensive language)
Outcome: Retained

Curious George by H.A. Rey
Objection: 1: Values (Racism) 2: Other (Unsuited to age).
Outcome: Retained



Banned Book Week: Little Bill



One of this years top challenged/banned books stands out as being a bit different from the others that typically make it onto the list — it was challenged not due to the content itself, but because of the author.

The Little Bill series of books, a children’s series written by Bill Cosby and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood (which was also an Emmy Award-winning cartoon that ran for 10 years) was challenged because of the criminal sexual allegations against Bill Cosby.

James LaRue, the Director of the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom, notes that “I think it’s our fascination with celebrity. If we love the person we love everything about him. If we hate the person we hate everything about him. We don’t seem to be able to separate the message from the messenger.” (Citation)

This appears to be the first time a book is challenged due to the author, rather than story content itself. Though the question surrounding the seperation of artist and their artwork is certainly nothing new.  As the ALA blog notes, “there are other authors who are criticized for their behaviors and beliefs. Among the classic authors – revered for their writing but despised for their bigotry – are T.S. Eliot, Roald Dahl, Edith Wharton and Dr. Seuss.” (Citation)

I’ve always been fascinated by the question of if you can separate the work from the artist. What do you think?