On the eve of Banned Books Week, YA author Patrick Ness spoke to an enthusiastic audience at BookPeople about the inspiration behind his new book, Release. He talked about the impact Judy Blume’s Forever had on him– its raw honesty and accurate portrayal of teenagers and sexuality was previously unheard of, and for those reasons, it’s been challenged again and again since its original publication in 1975. We ended up selling quite a few copies of Forever that night. A quick shout-out to Patrick for kicking off Banned Books Week with us!
We have two Banned Books displays up at BookKids that feature a little bit of everything, from picture books to graphic novels to memoirs, for kids of all ages! We’ve found plenty of customers are surprised to learn younger picture books have been challenged, asking us about classic titles like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (banned because the author, Bill Martin Jr., was confused for Bill Martin of Ethical Marxism) and Where’s Waldo? (banned for featuring topless sunbathers).
Here at BookPeople we LOVE featuring banned or frequently challenged books and putting them in readers’ hands. Here you will find important and honest stories, stories of immigrants and family (Esperanza Rising), LGBTQ characters (I Am Jazz, Beyond Magenta, George), and sexual health (It’s Perfectly Normal). Stories of sorcery and magic (Harry Potter), and books that may contain a bit of controversial language (Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, The Watsons Go to Birmingham). And we love ’em all! Here are a few staff favorites:
Drama by Raina Telgemeier – Challenged for sexually explicit content and LGBTQ characters
“To start, I love all of Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novels–her artwork is quirky, fun, energetic, and honest. Drama brings back so many memories of my own experiences in theater and I love her characters! Callie is incredibly relatable and her friends are so great. There’s so much skill and heart packed into these pages, I love it!” – Tomoko, BookPeople Art Director
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss – Challenged because it portrayed the foresting industry in a negative light
“I love recommending The Lorax because I’m a lover of trees and I believe in teaching kids at an early age that we need to take care of what’s around us. And isn’t it crazy to ban something simply for reflecting reality?” – Cindy K., Kids Bookseller
FEED by M.T. Anderson – Challenged for explicit language inappropriate for kids
“When I read this book, I remember thinking that some of the ideas seemed so far-fetched. Fifteen years later, it’s scary how close to reality some of those ideas are. In this book, characters are subjected to a constant deluge of information, advertising, hive mind, and connection. Teenagers also speak in their own language on the feeds. Sound familiar? The anti-consumerism message still rings true and the way we are all tied to social media – our Feed – makes this story relevant today.” – Ellen, School Bookfairs Manager
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – Challenged because it was “too dark” and contained supernatural elements
“This is one of my absolute favorite picture books because it’s such a childhood classic. I used to read it to my little wild one all the time and I love reading it for Banned Books Week storytime. Even though it was thought to be too dark or supernatural, this book is really all about imagination and telling kids that ALL KIDS MISBEHAVE– and that doesn’t mean your mama will ever stop loving you.” – Merrilee, Kids Bookseller
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson – Challenged because of occult/Satanism, offensive language, violence
“This is a book I loved as a kid and continue to love today. Leslie is one of my favorite characters of all time– she is adventurous, independent, deeply imaginative and a free thinker. Basically, every censor’s worst nightmare. This book will make you laugh, it will make you cry. The story and its characters, Jess and Leslie, are simply unforgettable.” – Eugenia, Kids Event/Marketing Coordinator
Come by BookPeople and celebrate the freedom to read with us!