In 1982, Banned Books Week was launched due to a “sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries.” Since then more than 11,300 have been challenged.
Books contain whole worlds and ideas. They represent all of humanity from our kindness and ingenuity to our truly dark and disturbing thoughts and actions. Books hold everything our imaginations can dish out.
The best part of books is that a reader is never alone. A reader will find someone who looks like them, thinks like them, and has the same dreams and goals.
That’s why I fight for the right to read. So no one will be alone.
My favorite banned book is Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. I loved this book when I was a kid. It was a book about friendship and acceptance. But it was Charlotte who really spoke to my little mind. She was caring and giving and she took care of business. She saved a pig and changed a farm. She was ‘Some Spider’.
This Newberry Honor winner was challenged in 2006 by a Kansas school district because of the talking animals and the inappropriate subject matter when Charlotte died. The parent group said, “humans are the highest level of God’s creation and are the only creatures that can communicate vocally. Showing lower life forms with human abilities is sacrilegious and disrespectful to God.”
I reached out to WNBA-NYC members and asked them to share their favorite banned books.
Rachel Feldman: “Hard to pick a favorite banned book but my favorite banned “author” is Judy Blume. For numerous reasons with one of the bigger ones being that she was a big part my growing up and relationship with reading would not be the same without her work.”
Five of Blume’s books have made the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990 to 1999. And four made the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000 to 2009.
Valerie Tomaselli: “My favorite book from the 2015 Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged List, compiled by ALA is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. I found it to be a compelling read about a sensitive and gifted kid (with autism) told in a clean and elegant style. Wrap that in a mystery story, what’s not to like? Well, according to ALA’s list, profanity and atheism were cited – two things I cannot remember at all about the novel.”
Linda Rosen: “There are so many different lists on-line for banned and challenged books. From the list for 2015 I’d say my favorite is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. At times funny, this was an eye opening, heartfelt story on a subject rarely written about. The play was phenomenal. I was emotionally exhausted at the end of it, more so than when I finished the novel.”
“The assumption is that I should be morally affronted when this happens – and it has happened surprisingly often – but the truth is that it always generates a really interesting debate among school kids and librarians and parents, not just about Curious, but about literature and freedom and language, and this is an undeniably good thing,” said Mark Haddon.
Christine Sikule: “I recently read The Color Purple by Alice Walker with my book club, and re-discovered just how many important themes it touches upon. While it may be difficult to read, the events in the book have so many parallels to today. Books are a way to discover a different perspective and broaden horizons; in “protecting” we are really hindering a more self-aware, educated population. There are so many great reads on the banned book list – actually it might be a great source if you’re looking for something to pick up!”
Bridget Marmion: “My favorite banned book – a perennial on the banned book list – is The Giver by Lois Lowry.”
“If we waited for every kid to be ready, we’d be the same kind of world Jonas is in,” said Pat Scales, the library director at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, S.C.
Rachel Slaiman: “It has been a while since I have read a banned book, but my favorite is The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I think this book sparked my reading interest all over again because of the characters ambition to make it through very tough times.
“It’s such a vicious and dangerous thing to begin. Besides, banning books is so utterly hopeless and futile. Ideas don’t die because a book is forbidden reading.” – Gretchen Knief local librarian in Kern County, CA who fought to get the banning of The Grapes of Wrath overturned in 2008.
Tell us about your favorite banned book in the comments.