Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us: Banned Books Week 2021

Banned and challenged books have made us question the ways of the world — and sparked heated debates for as long as any of us can remember. Banned Books Week runs from 9/26 – 10/2 and the titles on this year’s list include the top 10 most challenged books of 2020 — some you know and, if not, maybe this is the year you read them.

To Kill a MockingbirdOf Mice and Men and The Bluest Eye are the veterans of this list, and in the age of #MeToo and I May Destroy You, it’s stories like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson that we look back on as an introduction, for many of us, to sexual assault and the power of speaking up.

Separating the work from the artist is an ongoing debate that no one seems to agree on. Known as one of the most frequently challenged books since its release, for its use of profanity and sexuality, National Book Award Winner, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indianand Native American writer Sherman Alexie, have become the perfect example in recent years.

George — the Stonewall Award-winning debut by Alex Gino — is no stranger to the list. An important story about a transgender girl named Melissa and being true to who you are, even if it takes others a little while to get on board.

So much irony can be found in a book being considered a best and banned book of 2020 (kind of like a show being nominated for 18 Emmys and then being cancelled). Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds is a study of America’s history with racism and how we got to where we are today. And, after the summer of 2020, it really should come as a surprise to no one. When lawmakers are currently trying to erase that history, well, you can understand how we got here.

The BLM movement is one of the most controversial movements of our time. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely are the product of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, those before and after. Asking questions like “Why did the police shoot that man?” and “Can police go to jail?” Something Happened in Our Town is a guide for parents of all ethnicities to help answer the tough questions about racism and police brutality with children of all ages.

The world is messy. How do we grow if we’re afraid to talk about what makes us uncomfortable, unique and challenges us to think differently?

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