It is still shocking to me that in 2009, when freedom of speech is as widely practiced as brushing your teeth every morning, books are still being challenged, placed in restricted sections of the library, or banned all together. But we are sadly reminded, as another Banned Books Week comes around, that censorship is still in full swing (or at least trying to be).
When considering books that should be banned, I think perhaps “How to Make a Bomb” could have a logical reason for not being permitted in school libraries. But when I took a look at the 2008-2009 list, I seriously think I felt my jaw hit the floor. Most of these books are top selling, award winning novels that have secured a permanent spot in our present day pop culture.
So, these books are being “challenged”, which suggests that there is a group of people somewhere that is wagging their finger at us as we sit curled up in our bed drooling over every page.
But do we college students ever follow the rules? To be honest, we have a little too much fun breaking them.
So let’s do what we do best and rebel, people!
Here are a few of the books from the list that should most definitely be read, if not held out our dorm room windows in an act of defiance (if your lucky enough to see daylight in that cell of yours, that is).
The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer
This book was challenged for sexual content, and moved out of two middle school libraries (one in California and one in Utah). Really people? Twilight is everywhere! You’d think the fact that the kids can just go watch the whole thing played out on the big screen after school would convince you that taking the book off the shelves isn’t going to save the precious children from the corruption of vampires. So read every gripping page, and kiss your poster of Robert Pattinson an extra time for the kiddies.
My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picoult
This novel was pulled out of a Michigan middle school because they believed it was too racy for students (in the novel a young girl sues her parents because they want her to donate a kidney to her sister). It’s an awesome book. Recently made into a feature film. I think that grants it a place on library shelves. So read on, rebels, read on.
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
It was moved to the faculty section of a Massachusetts middle school because teachers felt the content was too frightening for students. I really don’t know what world these people think we’re living in. We have terrorists bombing our buildings. Kids see rape and crime and drugs splattered all over the 5 o’clock news. But they aren’t mature enough to read a novel that actually fosters a healthy discussion about the ever-too-present threat of rape and murder.?
The Gossip Girl Series by Cecily von Ziegesar
The reasoning: offensive language, sexually explicit content, and unsuited to the age group. Okay, perhaps we’ll give them that one. We all know it s a tad unrealistic that high school freshman are gallivanting all over the east side snorting coke and having the “I-didn’t-mean-to-steal-your-bf-I-love-you” talk over Martinis. But screw that, it’s freakin’ entertaining, so we’ll read them all, thank you very much!
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
There is an objection to the novels depiction of how blacks are treated by a racist white community; teachers felt it would upset black children. Do we cut the slave trade and the Holocaust out of history books because it’s upsetting? This is our nations history, and as horrible as it may be, ignoring that it happened might be worse. Plus, this is a classic! Let’s keep it alive since our poor younger generation isn’t able to.
*Honorable Mention: Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen, which is the story of two, gay Guinea pigs. Touchy subject, I know. But support it or not, shouldn’t kids be exposed to such a significant issue in our culture and politics?