Wow! This week I received even more fabulous pictures from readers reading banned books in trade for my buttons! I’m still running this challenge for another week or so, so if you want in, now’s the time! Send in your picture of YOU reading a banned book — email me at e.kristin.anderson AT gmail DOT com — and I’ll post it here on my blog and mail you these buttons!
Yes, you know you want them! And they can be yours, for the low, low, painless cost of a picture! Let’s get noticed, promote freedom to read, and celebrate Banned Books Week in style! Now, onto the reader photos!
Here’s one of my favorite people, Austin writer PJ Hoover! PJ is the author of the FORGOTTEN WORLDS trilogy, the third of which, THE NECROPOLIS, hits shelves this October! As a sci-fi writer, one of PJ‘s favorite books is BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley (gotta admit, I love this one, too). BRAVE NEW WORLD, which so many of us remember from required reading lists, is often challenged for sexual and “immoral” content and was even banned in all of Ireland in the 1930s. This is the book that has borne so many contemporary dystopian novels, that so many of us, as writers, draw on as reference for our own sci-fi worlds. Where would be be without Huxley? I don’t even want to know! Thanks, PJ, for reminding us to give our own copies of BRAVE NEW WORLD a hug (or another read).
At right is Wes Scheffler reading James Joyce‘s ULYSSES, a book that has certainly caused its fair share of controversy worldwide. It came under several trials for obscenity and was even burned throughout the 20s in several English-speaking countries. Book burning? That really gets under my — and Wes’ — skin. There is never an excuse to burn literature. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. And please please please don’t set it on fire!
At left we have Samantha Sanders reading one of my all-time favorite books, THE GIVER by Lois Lowry. It is one of the most challenged books of the last decade or so. In Kansas it was challenged for being “lewd” and “violent,” depicting controversial topics such as infanticide and euthanasia. Some parents simply object to the book because it is dark or “negative.” But our world isn’t black and white, and THE GIVER is an amazing book that touches on contemporary issues in a dystopian setting. If we only present our children with books depicting positive scenarios, we aren’t preparing them for the real world. Ironically, this is what THE GIVER is all about.
At right is author Betsy Franco with her own banned book, YOU HEAR ME?, a collection of poems by teen boys. YOU HEAR ME? is #53 on the ALA’s Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books 2000-2009. This book has been removed from shelves by parents citing that it is “harmful to children.” Betsy says she did not censor the poetry in the anthology, and that she has in fact received letters from readers saying that it helped them. For more info on YOU HEAR ME? and Betsy Franco, check back next week for an interview!
Here is vlogger Chelsea aka supernovakgirl reading Sylvia Plath‘s THE BELL JAR. Originally published under a penname — Victoria Lucas — Plath‘s novel is largely autobiographical. The book was heavily censored in the 70s because of its language and sexuality. Also some critics objected to the female character’s dismissal of her “womanly duties.” In one instance, in Indiana, the book was removed from a reading list and the teacher who assigned it was not rehired. Bravo to Chelsea for braving such an intense book, and for sticking up for readers everywhere who would like to have the choice to read it, too.
Above is librarian and friend Shawn Mauser reading THE STAND by her favorite author, Stephen King. If you missed Friday’s post, in which Shawn discussed how Stephen King kind of sort of saved her world, you so should go read it right now. Stephen King is one of the most banned authors of all time, with censors citing profanity, violence, dark topics, sexuality — the list goes on. But like Shawn said in her post — while Stephen King‘s books might not be right for every kid, he was right for her, and kids today deserve to have the option open to them as well.
Justina Ireland, my fellow YA-5-er, and ever the rebel, is seen here reading Upton Sinclair‘s THE JUNGLE on her (OMG — the scandal!) Kindle. THE JUNGLE, published in 1906, is a novel about working class America, and, more specifically, the meatpacking industry. It caused a huge uproar upon publication, and even President Theodore Roosevelt was outraged by the accusations made by Sinclair‘s book. THE JUNGLE was banned in Yugoslavia, East Germany, and South Korea, and was burned in Nazi Bonfires for Sinclair‘s socialist views. Books and literature are often platforms for political messages, as is the case with so many art forms. Whether intentional or not — and it was indeed Sinclair‘s intention to write a political book, as he has stated as much — an author cannot help but insert his own ideologies in his stories. And one of the awesome things about America is that we have the right — as writers and readers — to have and articulate our own political opinions. Props to Justina for bringing THE JUNGLE to our attention, and let’s not forget that freedom to read means keeping books on shelves whether we agree with their political statements or not.
Author of JUMPING OFF SWINGS and LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL, Jo Knowles is pictured (adorably!) at right with Robert Cormier‘s THE CHOCOLATE WAR. Robert Cormier is no stranger to censorship — most of his books have been challenged and/or banned, and THE CHOCOLATE WAR topped the ALA’s list as the most challenged book of the year in 2004. Most often it is removed from shelves because of “vulgar language,” and critics have also objected to sexual references and violence in the story. The book is an important one, carrying an anti-bullying message — a message you’d think people would want kids to hear. The truth is reality isn’t always pretty, and books like THE CHOCOLATE WAR is an book about real issues. Why take that away from any reader? And if you’re looking for more Jo Knowles — whose book LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL was recently challenged — I’ll be interviewing her later this month. Keep an eye out!
Looking lovely as ever, here is Mr. Chauncy Perry reading one of the most banned books of 2000-2009, THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS by Isabel Allende. Ranking in at #97, THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS has been removed from reading lists due to sexually explicit and violent passages in the book. Famously, in 2000, a California school implemented a rating system (like for movies) in their library after parents complained about the content of Allende’s novel. But the jillions of translations published worldwide? Including the Spanish language edition Chauncy is reading? Yeah, they belong on shelves, available to readers.
Inspired? Do you have a pic of yourself reading a banned book! You know what to do! <3