Censorship of books takes place all over the world. It is still going on in our own back yards in the U.S. and across the ocean in places like Russia. In fact, as recently as May of 2010 Russia put a ban on all of L. Ron Hubbard’s books citing that Scientology breeds extremism. During the Banned Books week, teenagers have the opportunity to go to their local libraries and search for books that have been questioned, censored, challenged or banned. Here are my recommendations for teen reading during Banned Books Week 2010.
Forever by Judy Blume
Ranked at #8 on the 100 most frequently challenged book lists between 1990 and 2000 this is a great book for teenage girls. It is a novel written by Judy Blume that delves into aspects of teenage sexuality. That is the reason it has so frequently been challenged in libraries and schools. The book deals with a young girl who is a senior in High School on summer vacation with her friends. She is contemplating sex for the first time with her already sexually active boyfriend. The books takes us through the summer with a group of teens exploring their own sexuality for the first time. Blume’s novel has been highly criticized for use of suggestive language, descriptions of sex and controversy over the pill.
Personal Note: I love this book and it still sits on my bookshelf.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Although this book was written in 1982 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1983 between the years of 2000 and 2009 The Color Purple has appeared each of those years on the America Library Associations 100 most frequently challenged books. Walker’s story is told in diary/journal form about the life of an uneducated black woman who is dealt an unfair hand in life from her first beatings and rape to the betrayals by her husband. The woman surrounding her show her a spirit and life that she grows envious of. The Color Purple has been challenged often because of the explicit violence written on the pages.
Personal Note: Excellent book, excellent movie!
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Written in 1937 this book take the prize when it comes to books that have been challenged, censored and banned. It has been challenged so frequently it is considered one of the most frequently challenged books of the 21st century. Steinbeck’s novel follows the lives of George and Lenny during the Great Depression. These two men are ranchers trying to find work and to fulfill their dreams. Lenny who is a large fellow with limited mental capabilities has a dream to raise soft fluffy rabbits. Lenny loves anything soft and this gets Lenny in trouble after he touches a woman’s soft dress. The men flee accusations of rape on that ranch and move on to another. However, this time Lenny gets into trouble again but murder is the accusation. Steinbeck’s novel has been challenged over the years for strong language, explicit violence and vulgarity.
Personal Note: This is a must read, and I admit it still makes me cry.
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
An oligarchical government, mind control, constant government surveillance and perpetual war make for a great book. But one that is also challenged and banned often. Orwell’s novel is based in Oceania after a global war. Three intercontinental super states have divided the world and have delved into the lives of people in both their public and private lives. People who exist are suddenly erased from history becoming unpersons. Orwell was the man who created the slogan, “Big Brother is Watching You”, which is still used today when we think of government interference in our own lives. Nineteen Eighty-Four has made it to the most challenged and banned list because of the communist content and sexual themes in the book. Antisexualism and sexual repression are discussed in the book.
Personal Note: This book is creepy and makes you wonder about the world we live in today. Highly recommended!