I love books. Growing up, we visited the library often, and I would pick up a huge handful of books, sometimes more than my little kid arms could carry. I wanted to read everything. To learn everything. My parents didn’t really steer us away from books, though they sometimes would read what we took home just in case, but I don’t recall either of them saying we couldn’t read a book we picked out. I sometimes would stop reading a book if it disturbed me too much, so in a way I did censor myself, but only because I recognized that I wasn’t emotionally prepared for what the book covered, so I would find a different book until I was ready to try that one again.
A lot of the books I read spanned many genres. I read nonfiction books about space. I read science fiction books, especially the Star Wars Galaxy of Fear books, as I was an avid Star Wars fan all through childhood. I devoured Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, and dived into the If I was a Wizard by Diane Duane and The Circle of Magic quartet and the Magic Opens quartet by Tamora Pierce. I cheered on the heroine of The Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, and read in rapt fascination the escapades Luke, Leia, Han, and friends in the huge array of Star Wars novels that spanned the adult SF shelves. Yes, by middle school, I’d read through most of the good books in children’s and teens sections, and so delved into adult fiction, mostly going for the SF and Fantasy. I loved exploring other worlds.
Ironically, it’s the books that really tugged at my heart and got me to think that are the ones most targeted for being banned. This is a great tragedy because these are the books that helps us to grow. To see the world through another’s eyes. To learn how to empathize with others, to get us out of our own heads and view other perspectives. To challenge our fiercely held opinions, and forcing us to look at those opinions with new eyes, and maybe even discard the ones that aren’t as healthy.
Those were the books that stayed with me, and it doesn’t surprise me that I find many of them here on the banned book lists.
I took a look at the banned book list for 2000-2009, and of the list, these are the ones that I read (I’m starring the ones that hit me the hardest as in I still remember the details of the book vividly today):
1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling*
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou*
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee*
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry*
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison*
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson*
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson*
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien*
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick*
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
99. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume*
And for 1990-1999, I will only include the ones that are not repeats of the above list:
The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
The Pigman, by Paul Zindel
Annie on My Mind, by Nancy Garden*
The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl
A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein
Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
I won’t get through all the ones I starred above, but I’ll cover a few this week.
First up is Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend you go and read it now. It’s an amazingly little gem, and it was my lifeline for quite a few years. That will be the contents of my next post.