It’s Banned Books Week, 2018! I love this holiday probably more than any other literary holiday of the year.
More and more, censorship is an enemy that we must fight on and offline. I’m pleased to bring you a list of the top ten banned books of 2017, as collected by the ALA. Here is a link to their site, please give it a look
10. I am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel, for Gender Identity
You know, gender identity is kind of a confusing topic. I kind of want there to be a book that might help some confused teenager figure themselves out. Just saying.
9. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, for LGBT content
There’s a lot of books on this list that were banned for LGBT content. So, I’m just going to address it once, on book number three.
8. The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas, for drug use and profanity
I swear, we need to stop banning books because of bad language. And drug use, really? Look, I’m not for glorifying drug use, but we have got to stop shielding people from everything bad. Let me assure you that if you go ask a druggie on the street what got them started, they’re not going to answer, “Well, I picked up The Hate You Give, and it just made drugs seem so appealing. It all kind of spiraled from there.”
Drug use is a symptom. We need to stop treating the symptom and fix the actual issues.
7. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, for violence and racial slurs
How, in the hell, are we still banning this book in 2017? It is a classic, I was required to read it in high school. The violence and racial slurs are kind of part of the point. If you don’t understand that, maybe you shouldn’t be making decisions about what other people are reading.
6. Sex is a Funny Word, by Cory Silverberg for sex education
Sex education and safety need to be taught. We need to know how to protect ourselves and watch over our reproductive health. There’s just no reason why we shouldn’t know these things, why we shouldn’t teach our children to be safe.
5. George, by Alex Gino, for LGBT content
See number three.
4. The Kite Runner, by Khlad Hosseini, for sexual violence, and religious themes. May lead to terrorism
I haven’t read this book, but I know that if a book incites you to be sexually violent or commit acts of terrorism, you were just looking for an excuse to start with. I play a bunch of violent video games, read horror books and watch American Horror Story. I have never even hit someone. You cannot blame the media for the actions of the sick.
3. Drama, by Raina Telgemeir, for LGBT content
Let me tell you a little story. It’s one that I’ve told before, and one that I will almost surely tell again. It’s one about the importance of representation, and it’s really short.
It damn well matters!
It matters that we see people who we can relate to portrayed well in media. It mattered to me that I saw strong women like Dana Scully and Lieutenant Uhura on tv when I was a young nerd. It matters to little kids who aren’t white to see people who look like them in the media as good guys. And it matters to LGBT kids to see their demographic portrayed as well.
Representation matters. And if your argument is that being LGBT is in some way wrong, then you’re just on the wrong side of history. The same should be said for anyone who tries to remove LGBT books from a school library.
2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, for profanity and being sexually explicit
While I don’t know that I would give this book to a small child, we need to stop demonizing sex and making it taboo. At best it makes it more appealing, at worse it demonizes what should be a loving and intimate act between two people who care for each other.
1. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher for suicide
Okay, for the first time ever, I have kind of a problem with this book. I might be reacting to this wrong, and anyone who has actually read this book please set me straight if I’m wrong. But I do have sort of a problem with anything that glorifies suicide. I don’t like anything that might make suicide seem like an appealing option to a confused and scared kid.
But, if I’m honest, I can say the same thing about this that I can about books dealing with drugs and violence. If reading this book made them do it, they were already going to. What we need is a secure safety net for kids in danger in our school systems, so that no kid feels hopeless or helpless. I feel like I should insert some links to some Dear Evan Hansen songs here.
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Station 86 is shocked when a Khloe assassin begins killing members of the all powerful council. Officer Sennett Montgomery and Councilman Godfrey Anders swear to find the assassin after Godfrey’s wife is falsely accused. But the killer, and the council itself, are not what they seem. Neither, as it turns out, is Sennett’s daughter.