Happy Banned Books Week!
There’s a certain set of middle schoolers who are more inclined to do anything that they think they’re not supposed to. So here’s a pitch for you: let them know that somebody didn’t want them reading these books!
Here are some suggestions of banned books for middle schooler readers, plus some helpful commentary on why you shouldn’t (read: should) read them.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Unfortunately, the terrible things in this book do happen to real teens. That’s why we should all make sure to pretend they don’t happen and never let any teens read about them.
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Acknowledging the existence of religious choice and periods? How dare you, Judy Bloom!
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Oh the irony! (This book may be challenging to comprehend for some middle school readers, so I recommend it for those with a high reading level.)
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
This is an adult book but is about a teen, and has been a favorite of teens, enjoying a resurgence recently with the release of a movie adaptation.
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
I cannot even fathom why someone would ban this book about a boy living on Alcatraz with his intellectual disabled sister. I think they may have used the word “crapper” for the toilet. Is that why?
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (4th most challenged book of the 90s, 3rd most challenged of the 00s)
Bullies are bad enough, but this book actually dares to suggest that ADULTS can be a big part of the problem. Adults! What’s Cormier trying to do, start a teen mutiny?
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Anne expressed the internal experience of being a teen girl with incredible eloquence and insight. Better not let any other teen girls read this, or they might think their nasty thoughts about boys and bodies are normal.
Lush by Natasha Friend (6th most challenged book of 2010)
This book about a girl with an alcoholic father has drugs in it. Friend really should have left the alcohol out. It even wouldn’t have changed the plot at all.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
This is one of the few classics that I feel confident most middle school readers today will enjoy. It would be a shame to lose such a treasure!
The Holy Bible (6th most challenged book in 2015)
Crazy, right?! This book was banned for having a religious viewpoint. It’s an example of something that is often forgotten: it’s not always conservatives who look to ban books.
Totally Joe by James Howe
Joe is totally gay. Scandalous!
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin (4th most challenged book in 2015)
We should never ever read about controversial topics relevant to major events happening in our world today. Ignorance for the win!
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Banned for racism. Either they missed the point, or they’re not talking about racism against people of color.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
As we all know, outer space is a conspiracy created by the scientists.
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
That’s right–your dog’s thoughts are dirty, too!
Cut by Patricia McCormick
Self-injurers can feel deeply alone, and the issue can be difficult to understand for those who have never experienced it. This book is a comfort and an education for both groups.
Angus, Thongs, and Full-frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison
Teen girls in books worrying about things teen girls in real life worry about? We can’t have that!
Boneseries by Jeff Smith (10th most banned book of 2013)
There’s a reason anthropomorphic bones don’t exist and it’s because bones are racist and violent.
What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones (7th most challenged book of 2010)What do you mean? Mothers know everything! Why aren’t you telling your mother everything?!
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
I read this dirty, dirty book when I was a kid. If that doesn’t scare you off, I don’t know what will.
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
This book about two girls getting their first glimpses of the problems of the adult world operates under the seriously flawed notion that our children ever have to grow up.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
White people being a-holes to black people? That never happens.
Note: Normally I don’t make fun of other people’s beliefs about books, but when you participate in censorship, all bets are off. Don’t forget: only the minor and their parents/caregivers have a right to decide what they can access and read!