In Honor of Banned Book Week (September 25- October 1), I wanted to Recommend some awesome titles featuring diversity. The majority of banned books are disproportionately from diverse authors. The challenged books usually feature people and issues which include LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. It seems as if many people in our society are uncomfortable with acknowledging and appreciating the diversity around them. Let me know in the comments if you've read or loved any of these titles!
1. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
Young Nasreen has not spoken a word to anyone since her parents disappeared.
In despair, her grandmother risks everything to enroll Nasreen in a secret school for girls. Will a devoted teacher, a new friend, and the worlds she discovers in books be enough to draw Nasreen out of her shell of sadness?
Based on a true story from Afghanistan, this inspiring book will touch readers deeply as it affirms both the life-changing power of education and the healing power of love.
Reasons Banned: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence. #9 Most Challenged Book of 2015
2. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
New York Times bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS.
While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.
Reasons Banned : Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”). #10 Most Challenged Book of 2015
3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.
With a forward by Markus Zusak, interviews with Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney, and four-color interior art throughout, this edition is perfect for fans and collectors alike.
Reasons Banned: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying” #1 Most Challenged 2014
4. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.
Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.
Reasons Banned: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions” #2 Most Challenged 2014
5. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison's first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves' garden do not bloom. Pecola's life does change- in painful, devastating ways.
What its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child's yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. The Bluest Eye remains one of Tony Morrisons's most powerful, unforgettable novels- and a significant work of American fiction.
Reasons Banned: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues” #4 Most Challenged 2014
6. Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima enters his life. She is a curandera, one who heals with herbs and magic. 'We cannot let her live her last days in loneliness,' says Antonio's mother. 'It is not the way of our people,' agrees his father. And so Ultima comes to live with Antonio's family in New Mexico. Soon Tony will journey to the threshold of manhood. Always, Ultima watches over him. She graces him with the courage to face childhood bigotry, diabolical possession, the moral collapse of his brother, and too many violent deaths. Under her wise guidance, Tony will probe the family ties that bind him, and he will find in himself the magical secrets of the pagan past—a mythic legacy equally as palpable as the Catholicism of Latin America in which he has been schooled. At each turn in his life there is Ultima who will nurture the birth of his soul.
Reasons Banned: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit. #9 Most Challenged 2013
7. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime."
Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir's choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.
The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.
Reasons Banned: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence #7 Most Challenged 2014
8. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
First love is never easy.
Ehwa grows up helping her widowed mother run the local tavern, watching as their customers - both neighbors and strangers - look down on her mother for her single lifestyle. Their social status isolates Ehwa and her mother from the rest of the people in their quiet country village. But as she gets older and sees her mother fall in love again, Ehwa slowly begins to open up to the possibility of love in her life.
In the tradition of My Antonia and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, from the pen of the renowned Korean manwha creator Kim Dong Hwa, comes a trilogy about a girl coming of age, set in the vibrant, beautiful landscape of pastoral Korea.
Reasons Banned: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group #2 Most Challenged 2011
9. Revolutionary Voices edited by Amy Sonnie
Invisible. Unheard. Alone. Chilling words, but apt to describe the isolation and alienation of queer youth. In silence and fear they move from childhood memories of intolerance or violence to the unknown, unmentored landscape of queer adulthood, their voices stilled or ignored. No longer. Revolutionary Voices celebrates the hues and harmonies of the future of queer society, offering a collection of experiences, ideas, dreams, manifestos, and fantasies expressed through prose, poetry, artwork, and performance pieces. This one-of-a-kind collection is an all-encompassing, far-reaching call to action that provides the groundwork for a new community where all members are recognized as critical components to our future society.
Reasons Banned: homosexuality and sexually explicit #9 Most Challenged 2010
10. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name.
Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009 at number seventeen because of the sometimes explicit content, particularly in terms of violence.
Reasons Banned: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group #9 Most Challenged 2009