In honor of Banned Books Week, some of my friends on Facebook have been discussing books on this list – their favorites, the ones with the most impact, etc. There is also a challenge going on Facebook to list 10 books that have had a lasting effect on you personally. I’m going to combine these. I’m going to list 5 books that have been on banned lists that have had the most impact on me.
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. A quintessential novel of the racist South in the Depression-era South. I absolutely love the characters in this novel. The wide-eyed innocence of Scout is written beautifully. Everyone can identify with her because we have all, at one time, been this girl. The character of Boo Radley – we all know of a legendary character that can be the Boo in the neighborhood. Atticus – the mild-mannered lawyer thrust into a case that was sure to be social suicide. But what stuck with me the most was how senseless the racism was and how you can perceive this through the children’s eyes. They don’t quite understand the impact of the events around them nor do they really care. But throughout the novel, you see them learning major life lessons about racism and the dark side of humanity. In the end, you realize, as Scout does, that you never really know someone or a situation until you walk in their shoes.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephan Chbosky. I did not read this in high school but I wish I had. Though times have changed, the nature of teenagers hasn’t changed. We are a little like Charlie – unsure of our place and longing to find somewhere we belong. We encounter moral questions that our parents don’t realize (or don’t want to realize) that shape our understanding of the world. It’s a great read for everyone to understand that peculiar time period of self discovery.
- Crank by Ellen Hopkins. Again, not a book I read in school. It wasn’t even published then! This book is a raw, honest story about falling into drug addiction. At first, I loved Kristina because I honestly related to her fears and her insecurities. But as I read, and reread it, I began to take offense to her conscious, selfish choices, believing her to be smarter than the what she was doing. Then, I just felt sad for her. Addiction is such a sad trap for the addict. And since I have had first hand experience with addicts who I love, it was even sadder. I hope this book may deter kids from meth. For this reason alone, I believe it should NOT be on any ‘banned’ list.
- Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I’ve never learned so much about courage than I did from these books. SO MANY LESSONS can be found here.
- Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I can’t imagine why this book was banned. It taught me compassion for the intellectually challenge and the beauty that is in ignorance.
What are some of your favorite banned books? I know my daughter will be reading all of these and many more when the time is right. Reading is such a privilege and it’s an art that I fear may be getting lost as technology gets better. Teach your children to read and learn to love a good book yourself. It’s the most freeing thing you can do!