Advocacy & Activism / To Read

To-Read Tuesday [Banned Books edition]

In honor of Banned and Challenged Books Week (Sept 24-Oct 1), we’d like to share some of our new and old banned favorites with you! Join in the conversation in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ and spread the word during this fantastic week to celebrate the freedom to read!


  • Favorite: I can’t pick one! I’d have to say Native Son by Richard Wright, Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
  • Reading this week: Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson and Lord of the Flies by William Golding and I’m also leading a Banned/Challenged Books Book Discussion at my library.


  • Favorite: one of the more famous banned books: Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I love it so much I have this t-shirt. Also George Orwell’s 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. These three books are incredible, and I could write a super long list of other ones I like too.
  • Reading this week: One of the unfortunate side effects of doctoral studies is that I don’t really get to read pleasure books except for about 5 minutes before bed, and since my brain is so mushy by the time I crawl into bed I’ve just started reading kids’ books. Right now it’s Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which I’m sure in one of its many incarnations has been banned at some point.
  • Favorite: I also can’t choose just one!  Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison: in college, I took a class on just this book.  blew. my. mind.  The Awakening by Kate Chopin: I haven’t read this book since high school, but I still remember the heated discussion our class had over the ending. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell: Seriously, how could you ban penguins?
  • Reading this week:  I think we should be reading banned books all year long! This week I’m not reading a banned book because I’m too caught up with a recent release (The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson) that I just can’t put down! I wouldn’t be surprised if someone eventually challenged it.
  • Favorite: Oh, man… Maybe it’s a cliche, but Catcher in the Rye seriously changed the course of my life.  Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden are also up there.  When I was in middle school the librarian went out of her way to order these for me from the high school library, so I have a soft spot for the intellectual freedom implications.  I wasn’t really ready for them then, but when I re-read them as an adult, I was floored.  It was spiritual.
  • Reading this week: I’m re-reading Julia Mickenberg, Philip Nel, and Jack Zipes’s Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature.  Julia Mickenberg also wrote Learning from the Left: Children’s Literature, the Cold War, and Radical Politics in the United States, and she’s a big favorite. Little Rebels contains a huge collection of radical kid’s lit organized by theme from the early 1900s on, reproduced in facsimiles, with author/illustrator bios and some critical commentary.  Political challenges aren’t as sexy as they used to be, but it’s oh-so-good!  The Marxist abecedarian alone is worth a look.
  • Favorite: My all-time favorite books are Grapes of Wrath, The Handmaid’s Tale, and To Kill A Mockingbird all of which were, surprisingly, assigned reading in high school.  I went to a fairly liberal private high school where we were encouraged to question authority and engage critically with assignments.  I would probably not the book lover I am today without these one.
  • Reading this week: The Hunger Games because I’m co-planning a huge event for the public library for the movie release in March.  (For the record, I am and will always be Team Gale!)
  • Favorite: I have a few favorites but among them are: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (she’s one of my favorite authors) and The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. After I read The Jungle, I didn’t eat hot dogs for YEARS. I read it in middle school and it opened my eyes to the way workers were treated pre-union days.
  • Reading this week: Not sure! My student group is doing a Banned Books event and we’re reading out from our banned book of choice. I might choose Heart of Darkness.

2 thoughts on “To-Read Tuesday [Banned Books edition]

  1. As a librarian at a school library, I have to rep kids lit and say my favorite banned book (or I should say series) is His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. I first read it in high school, and it completely changed the way I view God, religion,love, the human soul, the afterlife…. Pretty good for just a kids book ;)


    • I LOVE His Dark Materials. I was so reluctant to read it at first because I wrote it off as a “kids book”. I used to be a picky reader, but I’ve changed my ways! Anyway, all my friends loved that series and I picked up the Golden Compass on a whim. Then I read all the books in a week. It was that good. It has really interesting themes in it and I feel like it’s more than just a kids book.


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