Something Different

Latest school book banning in certain areas of the country as presented by The Atlantic.

Black Boy by Richard Wright, The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five as challenged by the Livingston (county. Michigan) Organization for Values in Education where I used to live. Catcher in The Rye did not make it on the banned list.

Here is The Atlantic‘s list of banned books. The first one is a surprise. Harper Lee’s second book left my History major second son disgusted. He was disappointed with Harper Lee.

It is always fun to talk to those doing or arguing about the banning. 

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Lee’s 1960 novel about a white lawyer defending a Black man falsely accused of rape in a segregated Alabama town won the Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into an Oscar-winning film.

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

Atwood’s popular dystopian story turns the United States into a Christian theocracy called Gilead, where fertile women are stripped of their name and impregnated against their will.

The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison

Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye, has shown up multiple times on the American Library Association’s annual list of challenged books. The classic, which kicked off Morrison’s Nobel Prize–winning career, follows Pecola Breedlove, a Black girl with a tragic family history and a deep desire to have blue eyes. In January, The Bluest Eye was removed from a Missouri school district’s libraries to keep children away from painful scenes of sexual abuse and incest—which in Morrison’s hands become illustrations of the insidious psychological damage that racism deals to her characters.

Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers

This Coretta Scott King Award winner, like many of Myers’s novels, follows a young Black protagonist. In this story, 17-year-old Richie Perry leaves Harlem for Vietnam, where he faces the horror and banality of war.

Heather Has Two Mommies, by Lesléa Newman

Newman’s 1989 picture book broke ground by depicting exactly what its title says. A young girl named Heather has two lesbian mothers and realizes in the story that her family is different from her schoolmates’ families. She learns why she doesn’t have a father, and that there are many different kinds of families.

Maus, by Art Spiegelman

The truth of the Holocaust is both abstracted and explicitly rendered in the graphic memoir Maus, which was banned in a Tennessee county last month by a unanimous vote. Spiegelman draws his Jewish family and protagonists as mice, Germans as cats, and Poles as pigs, but this style doesn’t fully blunt the hideousness of the victims’ suffering.

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson

This 1999 young-adult book about a teenager dealing with the effects of sexual assault was notably called “soft pornography” in a newspaper op-ed that drew notice from Anderson herselfSpeak’s honesty about its protagonist’s trauma and the subsequent social shunning she endures has made it a perennial classic—and a target for criticism.

His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman

Pullman’s award-winning fantasy trilogy is populated with talking armored polar bears, soul-sucking specters, and translucent angels. But ultimately, it’s about a war on adolescence. The story’s villains, all affiliated with an allegorical version of the Catholic Church, are motivated by a perverse desire to keep children innocent—even by essentially lobotomizing them. 

Looking for Alaska, by John Green

The teenagers at Green’s Alabama boarding school drink, smoke, swear, and fumble their way through life. Those actions have made the novel controversial for more than a decade.

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This epistolary book by the famed Atlantic writer reflects on racism’s long shadow. Coates’s frank assessment of the effect of centuries of racial violence on contemporary Black Americans has been attacked in some schools. Between the World and Me and Coates’s We Were Eight Years in Power are also included on Representative Krause’s list of books that “might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex.”

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

Thomas’s debut young-adult novel was a best seller and was quickly adapted into a film. Starr, a Black teenager, witnesses a white police officer kill her friend at a traffic stop. While navigating her grief, she gradually becomes a public advocate for racial justice. The Hate U Give has been challenged for its profanity and depiction of drug dealing, but most vigorously for its thematic connection to the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Gender Queer, by Maia Kobabe

Through illustrations and tender writing, this graphic memoir follows the nonbinary author’s journey of self-discovery.

In the Dream House, by Carmen Maria Machado

Machado’s captivating, experimental memoir details her abusive relationship with another woman, and her eventual escape from it. At a March 2021 school-board meeting in Leander, Texas, a parent read a sex scene from the book aloud and held up a pink dildo as part of an effort to demand its removal from a book club.

All Boys Aren’t Blue, by George M. Johnson

The essays in this collection take apart and examine Black masculinity, queer sexuality, and Johnson’s own life. The book has been removed from school libraries in multiple states and lambasted as “sexually explicit,” which the author called “disingenuous for multiple reasons.”

Maybe you have some to add?