Monday, September 26, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading?

This week is special for libraries, writers, and others who deal in the written word across the United States, as we celebrate Banned Books Week.

Banned Books Week 2016

Today, I want to share some of my personal favorite books from the "Frequently Challenged Children's Books" list published by the American Library Association.  
  • Judy Blume's Are You There, God?  It's Me, Margaret was a rite of preteen passage and a gateway to important talks about adolescence with my mother.  I was Margaret, navigating the fear and curiosity of impending puberty.  I still have the book on my shelf.
  • Dr. Seuss was a part of my childhood, my children's read-alouds, and continuing favorites of my elementary students.  Hop on Pop:  The Simplest Seuss for Youngest Use will be one of my favorites to (hopefully!) share with my grandchildren one day.
  • Long road trips would not have been as much fun without our Where's Waldo? books by Martin Hanford.  As an educator, I now realize we were building an eye for detail and visual literacy--and we just thought we were having fun trying to find Waldo!
  • I was glad to be introduced to Robie Harris' It's So Amazing! and It's Perfectly Normal! books during my master's program.  I bought them for my own children, and left them on the coffee table as a resource for facts about puberty and relationships.
  • Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time was one of the first science fiction books I read as an elementary student, and worth the re-reading with my lunchtime book group.  The story is just as relevant and awe-inspiring today.
  • I read The Giver by Lois Lowry for the first time with a book lunch bunch last year.  It's a cautionary tale about personal rights and freedoms that readers can connect with current events.
  • Mary Rodgers' Freaky Friday was on my bookshelf before Jodie Foster, and then Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan made it popular on the big screen.  Who doesn't love a tale on the classic theme of walking a mile in another's shoes?
  • My children grew up with the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling; I'm fairly certain they were the longest books my daughter read--and happily did so--in elementary and middle school.  They are on my home shelf as well, thanks to a generous uncle.
Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic, Elizabeth George Speare's The Sign of the Beaver, and Mildred D. Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry round out my list of books I've read and enjoyed as a child and into adulthood. My guess is that a few of your favorites are on the challenged books list as well.  Your favorites may not be mine; as I tell my students in the Book Nook of our library, "It's okay if you don't like every book I share.  Not every book is for every reader, and not every reader likes every book."  I trust them to learn their preferences and boundaries as they navigate through our library collection, becoming independent readers with critical thinking skills.

Banned Books Week 2016
It's Monday; what "banned books" are you reading this week?


  1. It's a wonderful post, Chris, with some of my favorites and some of my daughter's too! Most recently I would add The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner, one that some school librarians have refused to buy. It is sad to me that many believe they get to make reading decisions for others. Thanks!

  2. Wow - so many of these books were favourites of mine growing up! Judy Blume holds a special place in my heart, as I'm sure she does for so many of us. I love that you mention trust - the best librarians and educators trust young people, and respect them as individuals with their own thoughts, opinions and preferences. Great post - wish it wasn't still so relevant, though... :'(

  3. It is always amazingly bizarre about what books get challenged and banned. Last year when we celebrated this in Canada, I printed out small posters with individual title and the reason it was challenged and or banned. They were posted all over the school. We called it the list of books someone thinks you shouldn't read. It created a lot of conversation among kids and their parents. Two of my favorites are Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak. My two boys read those books to rags.

  4. Oooh, it's banned books week! What a very timely post! Great round up you have going here. :)

  5. What a great line-up! Many are my own faves too- I love that you say "Not every book is for every reader, and not every reader likes every book." I said the same thing (different words) in my post today too!