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Archive for the ‘Banned Books Week 2012’ Category

The Best of 2012 – Part 2

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

The yearly wrap-up!

It is always interesting to look back on the year in books, and see what stands out as having been noteworthy. This year my choices were easy to make – my top 5 jumped out at me from the list. Here they are, in no particular order.

Way back in January of 2012, I wrote a blog about this book, about how much I enjoyed it. The Disenchantments revolves around one turquoise VW bus, three teenage girl band members, one teen boy best friend, and a week-long tour, and it all amounts to… one hell of a story. Reminiscent of another time – late sixties, early seventies perhaps – possibly due to the music the characters love, possibly due to their alternative parents, possibly due to the very nature of the funky towns they stop in. I loved this book for the journey, the forks in the road, the music, art and the extraordinary friendships.

The Edumacation of Jay Baker was a really pleasant surprise. This book was so refreshing and funny, and I laughed out loud numerous times. Jay is a fantastic main character–he is sarcastic, smart, and full of incredibly spot-on one-liners. The humor in this book is extremely intelligent, the story a wild ride, and the pop culture references are epic. I love a stand-out character, and Jay was definitely that. One of his teachers is also an exceptional character, and the verbal sparring that takes place between the two is fantastic.

Every Day was fascinating and thought provoking and I even chose it for my book club to read in October. Main character “A” (not specified female nor male) is without his own life, identity, and body. He experiences the lives and feelings of others, but every day is different. There are valuable insights and perspectives to be gained from experiencing the innermost thoughts and feelings of very diverse people. This is a truly unique and extremely well-written concept story, leaving the reader with much to discuss or ponder. As usual, David Levithan does not disappoint.

Young adult books are usually the ones that end up being my favorites, but this little middle grade gem warmed my heart and I could not leave it off this list. Main character Mo LoBeau makes Three Times Lucky the memorable story that it is. She is spunky, honest, resourceful, courageous, and endearing. An excellent role model, Mo is utterly unafraid to speak her mind, a fierce protector of her loved ones and a strong willed proponent of justice. This is a murder mystery, and a suspenseful read as well as a funny and charming one. Teachers, take note, this is a great classroom read aloud choice.

I needed tissues for this one – The Story of Us definitely caused me to shed a tear or two.  There is so much to this story: family drama, friendship issues, a love story, a break up, and all of the feelings of a teen girl with big decisions to make in the summer after high school graduation. Family and change are at the heart of this well-written, witty and heartwarming story. Cricket is another unforgettable character, and this was my favorite summer beach read.

Here’s to the great reads of 2012, and I look forward to what 2013 has to offer! Happy New Year!

-Tiffany, StorySnoop

Best of Banned Books Week: The Giver, by Lois Lowry

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

In the spirit of Banned Books Week, StorySnoops is hosting a retrospective of some of our favorite “frequently-challenged” author interviews and book reviews. BBW is the American Library Association’s annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  It highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States. Check out the ALA timeline, showing significant banned and challenged books over the past 30 years. These are some of our all-time favorites—can you imagine someone denying you access to these books?

In the spirit of the American Library Association’s upcoming Banned Books Week, I recently picked up The Giver, by Lois Lowry, to see what all of the fuss was about.  Surprisingly, this highly decorated book that is frequently taught in schools is also one of the Top 100 Banned or Challenged Books of the last decade for “being sexually explicit,” and having “occult themes and violence.”

In The Giver, eleven-year-old Jonas lives in a community that is completely controlled.  Residents are assigned jobs, spouses, and even children, who are given birth outside of the family by women who are designated to do so. The ultimate goal of the community is “sameness” — but this means that no one has freedom of choice.  When Jonas turns twelve, he is selected for the most honored job in the community, the Receiver of Memory.  Jonas’ predecessor, the Giver, is the community’s sole keeper of life’s memories, which allows the residents to live free of anguish.  When these memories are transmitted to Jonas, he finds that he is unable to accept the truth that comes with them.

This award-winning story is compelling and thought provoking.  As memories are transferred to Jonas, he begins to question the world around him and whether eliminating the freedom to make choices is such a good thing.  The book provides many opportunities to discuss the pitfalls of too much conformity in society, and what it would be like to have every choice made for you.

One challenged theme in The Giver is the community’s custom of “release,” which is used frequently with the elderly, rule-breakers, and newborns that are less than ideal.  Residents have no idea that when a person is “released,” they are actually euthanized by lethal injection.  When this information is transmitted to Jonas, the realization is almost unbearable because his father has “released” many newborns in his job as “Nurturer.”  This subject matter provides an excellent opportunity for young people to form their own beliefs about such practices.

Jonas also discovers that the last Receiver of Memory-in-training (the Giver’s daughter) chose to be released by injecting herself after learning the truth about the community.  While some have argued that The Giver portrays suicide as a viable option for dealing with despair, Jonas’ own actions are an excellent example of how there are always alternatives to suicide.

The fact that the book has been challenged for being sexually explicit is somewhat surprising since there is virtually no sexual content.  Each resident of the community is given daily medication to eliminate “stirrings” at the onset of sexual thoughts or feelings, so sexuality is not a part of their lives.

After reading The Giver, it is almost impossible to miss the irony.  In the past decade, there have been many attempts to control access to a book that eloquently illustrates the danger of too much control in society.  Personally, I’m with Jonas.  A society that allows people to have freedom of choice is a much better place.

-Jen, StorySnoop

Thanks so much for joining us for Banned Books Week 2012!  If you’ve missed any of the BBW 2012 series, you can find it all right here.

Best of Banned Books Week: Interview with Lois Lowry

Friday, October 5th, 2012

In the spirit of Banned Books Week, StorySnoops is hosting a retrospective of some of our favorite “frequently-challenged” author interviews and book reviews. BBW is the American Library Association’s annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  It highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States. Check out the ALA timeline, showing significant banned and challenged books over the past 30 years. These are some of our all-time favorites—can you imagine someone denying you access to these books?

Our guest today is Lois Lowry, the award-winning author of more than thirty books for children, including one of the most frequently challenged books for the past decade, The Giver.

Thanks for joining us today Lois.  We’re thrilled to have you!

For anyone who has read The Giver, it is almost impossible to miss the irony.  In the past decade, there have been many attempts to control access to this book that eloquently illustrates the danger of too much control in society.  Were you surprised when The Giver was first challenged?  How has censorship affected you personally?

Yes, I was very surprised the first time I heard of an attempt to censor The Giver.  Now, of course, many years later, it has happened so often that I hardly even notice. But it does make me sad, still.

Does having a book on the frequently banned or challenged list affect your writing in any way?

No. If anything, it has made me aware how important it is to deal with serious issues in books. I don’t shy away from them, for fear of censorship; and my publisher, thankfully, feels the same way.

You have said, “I try, through writing, to convey my passionate awareness that we live intertwined on this planet and that our future depends upon our caring more, and doing more, for one another.”  What is the ultimate impact of censorship on this message?

I stand by that message, even though I said those words many years ago.  I care about today’s kids and worry about their future. So I try in my own way to stand for the things that will guarantee their freedom. Fighting censorship is important. All totalitarian governments restrict freedom of speech. We have to work to guard against that kind of ominous governmental intrusion.

Many of your books, including Newbery Award winner Number the Stars, touch upon this theme.  What experiences in you own life have made human connections the focus of your writing?

I grew up during WW II and have lived, now, through many other conflicts. My son was a military officer killed in a fighter plane. I am unendingly aware of the sacrifices all of us make on behalf of democracy and individual freedoms.

And now some questions from a Junior Snoop, who just read The Giver in middle school.

• The ending of the Giver is unclear. Did Jonas reach Elsewhere, or did you leave it intentionally open for interpretation?

I left it open to interpretation at first but have gone on, now to write three other books to follow The Giver.  The first two are Gathering Blue and Messenger,  The third is written but not yet titled or published. Jonas…and Gabriel…are major characters in it.

• Is there a reason that you ended the Giver with Jonas on the sled? Does it have any relation to the fact that riding on the sled was the first memory Jonas received?

When a writer inserts a strong image…..such as the memory of the sled…..that writer will usually repeat the image later in the book. (Now that I have told you that, you will start to notice it in other books!)

Join us tomorrow for the StorySnoops SuperScoop review of The Giver. And if you’ve missed any of our BBW 2012 posts you can find them right here.

Best of Banned Books Week: Interview with Walter Dean Myers

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

In the spirit of Banned Books Week, StorySnoops is hosting a retrospective of some of our favorite “frequently-challenged” author interviews and book reviews. BBW is the American Library Association’s annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  It highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States. Check out the ALA timeline, showing significant banned and challenged books over the past 30 years. These are some of our all-time favorites—can you imagine someone denying you access to these books?

Our guest today is Walter Dean Myers, the highly decorated author of more than fifty books.  His book, Fallen Angels, has been on the list of the top ten most frequently challenged books a few times in the past decade.

Thanks for joining us today Walter.  We’re honored to have you!

Good morning!

Obviously, no author is in favor of restricting access to literature.  What do you feel are the dangers of this practice?  Does the existence of book challenges ever cross your mind when you are writing?

Book challenges are, primarily, generated by the fear that a book will somehow damage a child by changing what is considered to be a valued norm. In my mind when a book touches upon a controversial subject it is precisely because the norm has already been significantly changed, and the author has had the courage to acknowledge this. Many of the challenges to Fallen Angels have dealt with the use of profanity in the book. The execution of war involves, on a very basic level, getting law abiding, and humane people into a mode that allows them to kill other human beings for whom they have no personal animosity. The use of profanity is part of the conversion process as is the dehumanizing effect of referring to an enemy with such terms as ‘gooks’ and ‘slants’. When I write a book that is liable to be challenged it is because I have detected a change in what is advertised as the accepted norm.

Why do you feel it is important for young readers to be exposed to some of the difficult subject matter present in your books?

One of society’s ways of trying to protect young people is by not openly discussing our problems. But many children will one day face the problems and all children will have to deal with them on some level. When I find a subject that is clearly bothersome to me I am drawn to exploring that subject in a book. I did hundreds of pages of interviews in adult prisons before I began Monster. Eventually, I discovered how many of the adult prisoners had children on the outside, and I began to visit juvenile prisons. What disturbed me most in my research was how often children have to make decisions under the pressures of the moment instead of having the benefit of previous discussions in the classroom or around the dinner table.  Literature can, to an extent, replace these discussions.

Do you feel like there is one unifying objective or message woven through your body of work when looked at in its entirety?  If so, how does this affect new projects?

If there is a universal theme in my work it deals with man’s need to identify and celebrate, within a given culture, his own humanity.  This is the ultimate goal of my characters.

Monster is a thought-provoking story about a sixteen-year-old boy on trial for murder.  It raises questions about moral culpability, the consequences of bad choices, and the impact of race and socioeconomic background on the justice system.  How would you recommend kicking off a book club discussion of Monster?

A book club discussion of Monster might begin with the differences between the protagonist’s legal obligations and his moral posture.  I still get dozens of letters from young people (and some teachers) saying that Steve should never have been brought to trial because he didn’t actually pull the trigger.  The lack of understanding of the law here is tragic.  Any participation in a felony exposes the actor to penalties incurred by all the participants.

One of the most important things an author can do to get teens to read his books is to write authentic teen characters, and you do a remarkable job at this.  Where do you get your insight?

I think writers explore the human condition, which everyone recognizes. A teenager in modern day Alabama can recognize the humanity in Shakespeare’s King Lear.

On the same topic, when teen reader Ross Workman contacted you with this same thought, you ended up writing a book with him, Kick. This must have been the experience of a lifetime for Mr. Workman!  Can you tell us more about how the whole thing came about, and how it was working with a novice to create a virtually seamless novel?

It was a pleasure working with Ross Workman. While we differed in age and background we had a common interest in writing in general, and in the particular story we attempted. When Ross contacted me by email I was impressed with the range of his interests.   He played several sports, including soccer, and also played in the school band. He was a doer. I suggested an exercise to him, that we try to put an outline together and see where it led us. He was enthused about the idea and it was his enthusiasm, plus the intelligent way he handled criticism, that kept us going through several drafts, and eventually the book Kick.

What are some contemporary books written by other authors that you think are important for your readers to read?

Two books which I have enjoyed are Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson. Anyone who has spoken to as many young girls in prisons as I have understands the trauma involved in sexual assault and the difficulties dealing with it in our society.

Sugar Changed the World by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos discusses how one industry has made a huge difference in the way people have moved across our globe and the way that movement has changed not only their lives, but the entire world.

Thank you for joining us Walter! For more information on what Walter is up to, visit his website.

Please join us tomorrow for an interview with award-winning author Lois Lowry. If you’ve missed any of the BBW 2012 series, you can find it all right here.

Best of Banned Books Week: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

In the spirit of Banned Books Week, StorySnoops is hosting a retrospective of some of our favorite “frequently-challenged” author interviews and book reviews. BBW is the American Library Association’s annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  It highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States. Check out the ALA timeline, showing significant banned and challenged books over the past 30 years. These are some of our all-time favorites—can you imagine someone denying you access to these books?

I am so excited to share one of my favorite books with you this week.  Although it has a loyal following, many people have not heard of this highly decorated book.  Could it be because The Perks of Being a Wallflower (POBAW) is one of the most frequently challenged books of the past decade? Perhaps. 

The story unfolds in letters written by protagonist Charlie to a mystery person during the course of his freshman year of high school.  Charlie, an introvert, has been prone to bouts of depression and anxiety ever since the death of his favorite aunt many years ago.  After Charlie’s one and only friend commits suicide, Charlie must face the scary halls of his new school alone, shy and grieving.

While Charlie does not speak much and prefers to be a “wallflower,” he is a keen observer.  His reflections are honest, sensitive, and for the most part, without agenda or bias.  Still, he is tremendously perplexed by life.  Because he has always focused on those around him, Charlie understands shockingly little about himself.

But all this is about to change.  When a teacher recognizes the genius in Charlie, he refuses to let him continue through life as a passive observer.  In addition to assigning extra books packed with lessons about living life, the teacher encourages Charlie to interact with others.  After Charlie meets popular Samantha and Patrick, they soon discover that there is much more to this overlooked wallflower than meets they eye.  With their guidance, Charlie begins to meet more people and have new experiences he never even imagined.  Once Charlie begins to truly live his life with passion, he is able to make friends, enrich his family relationships, and come to terms with some very big issues.
What makes this book a masterpiece (in my opinion!) is its accurate portrayal of adolescence through Charlie’s eyes.  His observations are so honest that they seem almost childlike and at times, achingly beautiful. While there are some teen books in which the author artificially injects controversial scenes just for shock value, this is not one of those books (but those shouldn’t be banned either!).  Content that is “objectionable” should be considered within the context of the story.  For example, teens in POBAW do experiment with drugs and alcohol, but this behavior is far from glorified and some tragic consequences occur as a result. Taking things out of context is a dangerous thing — you kind of miss the big picture.
Pulling this book off the shelves eliminates the opportunity for young readers to learn from Charlie’s open-minded observations about other people’s struggles; his sister’s struggle to respect herself, a friend’s struggle to be accepted as a homosexual, his parents’ struggle not to pass on the mistakes their own parents made.  The importance of being loved and accepted for who you are is a universal theme that any one of us can relate to, boy or girl, teen or adult, wallflower or not.  After all, don’t we want our teens to be reading books they can relate to?  Not only will they be more interested, they may also absorb valuable lessons that could help move their lives forward in a positive direction.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a well-written, empathetic account of an outcast’s first year of high school, which, by the way, turns out well and has a happy ending in which Charlie triumphs.  Isn’t that exactly what we want our kids to be reading?  But even if it’s not, please don’t make that choice for me.

-Shannon, StorySnoop

Come back tomorrow to hear from award-winning author Walter Dean Myers. If you’ve missed any of the BBW 2012 series, you can find it all right here.

Best of Banned Books Week: Meet Phyllis Reynolds Naylor!

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

In the spirit of Banned Books Week, StorySnoops is hosting a retrospective of some of our favorite “frequently-challenged” author interviews and book reviews. BBW is the American Library Association’s annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. It highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States. Check out this ALA timeline, showing significant banned and challenged books over the past 30 years. These are some of our all-time favorites—can you imagine someone denying you access to these books?

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is a prolific children’s author, well known for her trilogy, Shiloh, a 1992 Newbery Medal winner. She has also won two Edgar Awards in the Best Juvenile Mystery category. Phyllis writes the popular Alice series, for which she receives tons of fan mail from young girls who not only rave about her books, but ask her advice on a wide range of topics.

We are honored to have with us today, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, award-winning author of more than one hundred and thirty five books! Phyllis, your Alice books have been on the frequently banned/challenged book lists. What in these books was most “challenged” and were you surprised?

I believe it’s been “inappropriate language” and “sexual content.” It varies from censor to censor.  I’m amazed, but not surprised, because about the only swearing that takes place is an occasional “O’m'god!” from one of the girls, and though the sexual thoughts and conversations are fairly graphic in nature, they are not pornographic and are definitely honest and realistic. I’ve been especially amazed–awed, really–by the shock over some passages in one of the Alice prequels, Lovingly Alice, in which Alice finds out about sexual intercourse, asking real questions, and getting wholesome, loving answers from her dad (with, in Alice’s case, humorous asides from a teenage brother). This, to me, is the way a child should learn the facts of life– from her family.

Have you ever been cautioned or asked by a publisher to “tone down” anything in your writing?

One of my editors, in discussing censorship issues, suggested that when I had the choice of using a swear word or a less controversial word, to choose the less controversial if it seemed to make no difference to the story. But that if I felt a character would speak or react in a way that made the swear word imperative, I should use it. That’s been my guide. I read my manuscripts aloud, over and over, taking the part of various characters, and if I feel that a teenage boy, for example, in a certain situation would say, “Oh, shit!” then shit it is. When we start substituting words that change a character’s personality, we’re in danger of losing not only our audience but our story.

One of the things we love most about your books is your frank and honest portrayal of puberty. What inspired you to write about this topic?

Not only my own questions about bodies as I was growing up, but the personal questions and problems readers ask me on the Alice website, www.alicemckinley.com, some of which I publish (without names) on the fan mail page, others I answer personally by email. High on the list are worries about their own bodies, especially their genitalia, and misconceptions about sexual play with their boyfriends and getting pregnant. I hope I’ve established over the years that I try to answer their questions as honestly as I can, being neither a doctor nor a psychologist, just an enlightened grandmother, and that I do not judge them.

You capture the adolescent angst/embarrassment very well. Did someone inspire you, or do you just have a really good memory?

I have a really good memory for every embarrassing thing that ever happened to me. In fact, I remember each year of grade and middle and high school mostly by some stupid thing that I did, and I must admit that in my later years, when my mother would write that Mr. so-and-so had died, and this was a person who had witnessed one of my ridiculous moments, I would feel a guilty relief that the witness was gone and had taken the memory of my humiliation with him.

We have noticed a recurring theme (in the Alice books and Faith, Hope and Ivy June) of self-discovery and acceptance and not judging people by their outward appearances. Is this something you feel strongly about instilling in young women?

Very much so.  I hear from a lot of girls who are angry that the guys in their class seem most interested in the most physically attractive girls with the most outgoing personalities, ignoring the quieter, plainer girls. I sometimes feel compelled to ask them if they themselves pay attention to some of the more plain and quiet boys at school. All you have to do to see that plain and pretty girls alike get married is to look at the neighbors around you and see the variety of couples. Look at the wedding and engagement photos in the newspaper. Though appearance and intelligence and a sense of humor all matter, it often comes down to whom we feel most comfortable with, what person brings out the best in us and lets us be ourselves. If we want to be judged not only by how we look but how we think and feel, then we have to extend the same courtesy to others.

Thank you for joining us Phyllis.  You can find all of the StorySnoops reviews of Phyllis’ books here.

Come back tomorrow for our Super Scoop review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower , now a major motion picture, and a perennial entry on the ALA’s Frequently Challenged Books list. If you’ve missed any of the Best of Banned Books Week series, you can find it right here.

-The Snoops

Best of Banned Books Week: Judy Blume talks censorship and more!

Monday, October 1st, 2012

In the spirit of Banned Books Week, StorySnoops is hosting a retrospective of some of our favorite “frequently-challenged” author interviews and book reviews. BBW is the American Library Association’s annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. It highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States. Check out this ALA timeline, showing significant banned and challenged books over the past 30 years. These are some of our all-time favorites—can you imagine someone denying you access to these books?

Our guest today is beloved author Judy Blume.  More than 80 million copies of her books have been sold and her works have been translated into 31 languages.  This highly acclaimed writer is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Library of Congress Living Legends Award, and the 2004 National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.  Judy is one of the most frequently banned writers in America, having found herself in the middle of an organized book banning campaign in the 1980s.  Since then she has championed intellectual freedom, working with the National Coalition Against Censorship to protect the freedom to read.

Judy asked that we use some of her previously released statements as answers to two of these questions.  However, we are snoopy Snoops and just had to throw a couple of extras in there for her!

What effect does a censorship climate have on a writer?

Chilling. It’s easy to become discouraged, to second-guess everything you write.  I’ve never forgiven myself for caving in to editorial pressure based on fear, for playing into the hands of the censors. I knew then it was all over for me unless I took a stand. So I began to speak out about my experiences. And once I did, I found that I wasn’t as alone as I’d thought.

You must have been surprised when people began to take issue with your themes about real-life adolescent experiences.

I wrote Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret right out of my own experiences and feelings when I was in sixth grade. Controversy wasn’t on my mind. I wanted only to write what I knew to be true. I wanted to write the best, the most honest books I could, the kinds of books I would have liked to read when I was younger. If someone had told me then I would become one of the most banned writers in America, I’d have laughed.

What’s your biggest fear about censorship with regard to young people today?

What I worry about most is the loss to young people.  Some people would like to rate books in schools and libraries the way they rate movies: G, PG, R, X, or even more explicitly. But according to whose standards would the books be rated? I don’t know about you but I don’t want anyone rating my books or the books my children or grandchildren choose to read. We can make our own decisions, thank you. Browsing at the library or in the books on our shelves at home, allowed me to find and read books I can still recall, books I might otherwise never have read.  I’m thankful my parents encouraged me to read.  Reading was a good thing in our family, not something my parents feared.

We have always wondered how you could possibly understand exactly what we all felt and experienced as young girls, both spoken and unspoken.  How do you do this?

I can’t explain it.  It’s just something I can do.  I know that’s not a satisfying answer — maybe it’s that I identify so closely with kids, am able to connect one-on-one with them.  Does it have to do with my ability to remember my own childhood so vividly?  I’m sure that’s part of it.  It’s just such a part of me I don’t question it.

Thanks for taking a few minutes with us, Judy!

Judy continues to write for young adults.  You can keep an eye on what she is up to on her website.

Join us again tomorrow for an interview with Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, author of the frequently-banned Alice books. Click here to see all of our interviews in the Best of Banned Books Week series.

-The Snoops

Best of Banned Books Week: Forever, by Judy Blume

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

In the spirit of Banned Books Week, StorySnoops is hosting a retrospective of some of our favorite “frequently-challenged” author interviews and book reviews. BBW is the American Library Association’s annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. It highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States. Check out this ALA timeline, showing significant banned and challenged books over the past 30 years. These are some of our all-time favorites—can you imagine someone denying you access to these books?

I don’t know about you, but when I was in middle school, I thought I was getting away with murder when I read Forever, by Judy Blume.  Did my mother even know what this book was about?  There, in black and white, was a description of the forbidden act that everyone was talking about.  The teens in this book were doing it and I got read about it in minute detail.  It was romantic.  It was steamy.  It was forbidden.  Or so I thought.

Now that I have re-read the book as a parent, I see the story from a whole new perspective.  First of all, Judy Blume is an absolute genius.  We all thought this was the sex book.  Nope.  It’s really the wait-for-the-right-boy-and-use-birth-control book.  That is the genius part.  The story is crafted in such a way that girls want to read positive messages that they may not want to hear from their parents.  So for the price of exposing your daughter to some pretty explicit love scenes (and wouldn’t you rather she know what she’s getting herself into anyway?), you get wonderful messages about waiting for the right person, and the importance of talking to your family, and acting responsibly.

Yes, it’s still pretty steamy.  Yes, the boy names his male equipment “Ralph.”  But the themes in this classic are still relevant today, even thirty-seven years after it was written.

-Jen, StorySnoop

You can find the rest of our Best of Banned Books Week series here, with entries being added all week. Come back tomorrow for the StorySnoops interview with Forever author Judy Blume–it’s not to be missed!

Banned Books Week 2012 is Around the Corner!

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

This marks the 30th Anniversary of the American Library Association’s annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States. To commemorate the occasion, the ALA has created a timeline of significant banned and challenged books for each of the past 30 years.  It turns out that many of the books featured on the timeline are among our favorites. Click on the book covers and find out what we have to say about these books that would have been sorely missed had we not had the opportunity to read them.

Bridge to Terabithia

1985

Forever

1987

The Chocolate War

1988

Go Ask Alice

1993

All But Alice

1997

Fallen Angels

1999

Harry Potter (Series)

2001

The Giver

2003

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

2009

ttyl

2010

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

2011

Banned Books Week

10/5/12 UPDATE: Here are the Best of Banned Books Week interviews all in one place, in case you’ve missed any!

-The Snoops