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Banned Books Week Starts Tomorrow: "Banning Books Silences Stories"

I want to live in a world that supports a diverse range of voices, where everyone can find that story that speaks to them and inspires them to amplify their own voice. That's why I am against censorship and support Banned Books Week and the fight to keep challenged books on the shelves and in libraries.

The Top Ten Challenged Books of 2017 are:
  1. Thirteen Reasons Why written by Jay Asher
    Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide.
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie
    Consistently challenged since its publication in 2007 for acknowledging issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality, this National Book Award winner was challenged in school curriculums because of profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.
  3. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    This Stonewall Honor Award-winning, 2012 graphic novel from an acclaimed cartoonist was challenged and banned in school libraries because it includes LGBT characters and was considered “confusing.”
  4. The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini
    This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”
  5. George written by Alex Gino
    Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.
  6. Sex is a Funny Word written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth
    This 2015 informational children’s book written by a certified sex educator was challenged because it addresses sex education and is believed to lead children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex.”
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee
    This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, considered an American classic, was challenged and banned because of violence and its use of the N-word.
  8. The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas
    Despite winning multiple awards and being the most searched-for book on Goodreads during its debut year, this YA novel was challenged and banned in school libraries and curriculums because it was considered “pervasively vulgar” and because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language.
  9. And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole
    Returning after a brief hiatus from the Top Ten Most Challenged list, this ALA Notable Children’s Book, published in 2005, was challenged and labeled because it features a same-sex relationship.
  10. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.
For more information, see the Banned Books Week website.

This article originally appeared on In Bed With Books

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Props to Ny’shira Lundy!

The Hate U Give Ny'shira Lundy, 15, fought to get THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas back on the shelves of Katy ISD schools.

It was removed late last year for "pervasive vulgarity and racially insensitive language" after the parent of a junior high school student complained. Lundy decided to fight for the book, organizing an official petition and speaking before the school board on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

"Like Starr, I’m a black female who attended a predominantly white prep school. I struggled to feel as if I could be myself. After reading her story, and seeing how she went from feeling like to she had to adjust to the environment that she was in, to feeling as if she had a voice and that she should be bold enough to share it, it made me feel confident, and as if I shouldn’t be afraid to embrace who I am."

Thanks to her efforts, THE HATE U GIVE has been reinstated in Katy ISD high school libraries.

I paid more attention to this case than the many, many cases of censorship in school libraries because I attended Katy ISD schools for Kindergarten through sixth grade. They're amazing schools with excellent teachers, funding for incredible programs, and overall competitive in academics. I have that strong educational foundation to thank for many of the things I've achieved. But I also have books to thank for the person that I am.

Books are a window to other experiences. They make our world bigger. And sometimes they have to depict the worst parts of the world to tell their story.

Congratulations to Ny'shira Lundy, congratulations to Angie Thomas, and congratulations to the students of Katy ISD. I hope there's a wait list at the libraries for THE HATE U GIVE.

For the rest of us, remember to read banned & challenged books. You can also explore the Banned Books Week site for ideas on how to support the ALA, the Freedom to Read Foundation, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, The American Society of Journalists and Authors, Project Censored, and other groups supporting the right to read.

This article originally appeared on In Bed With Books