Who are these people writing the materials in question? Some of our favorite authors! Many authors have multiple titles that have been challenged or banned over time. To recognize their works and efforts, let’s take a look at some of the most frequently banned authors from the last 30 years:
A beloved author for decades, Judy Blume has quite the record of challenged or banned books. According to the American Library Associations list of 100 most frequently challenged or banned books from 1990-1999, Blume has five titles listed.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” No one ever told Margaret Simon that eleven-going-on- twelve would be such a hard age. When her family moves to New Jersey, she has to adjust to life in the suburbs, a different school, and a whole new group of friends. Margaret knows she needs someone to talk to about growing up-and it’s not long before she’s found a solution.
“Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret. I can’t wait until two o’clock God. That’s when our dance starts. Do you think I’ll get Philip Leroy for a partner? It’s not so much that I like him as a person God, but as a boy he’s very handsome. And I’d love to dance with him… just once or twice. Thank you God.”
“Katherine and Michael meet at a New Year’s Eve party. At once they’re attracted to each other, they grow to love each other, and after one or two failed attempts, they make love. Their relationship becomes intense and exclusive. Katherine, usually very close to her parents, finds that she just can’t discuss Micheal with them. However, her grandmother turns out to be much more sympathetic and, indeed, highly practical when she suggests Katherine should go on the Pill. With their future together all planned, Kathertine eventually confronts her parents. But they insist that she and Michael put their love to the test of a long separation. For Katherine it’s a time to reflect and wonder if their love really is forever…”
“Deenie is almost relieved when the doctors put an end to her mother’s dreams of a glittering career for her beautiful daughter. But having to wear the ugly back brace to straighten her spine also crushes Deenie’s own hopes of becoming a cheerleader and – she is convinced – her promising friendship with Buddy Braden too…”
“Blubber is a good name for her, the note from Caroline said about Linda. Jill crumpled it up and left it on the corner of her school desk. She didn’t want to think about Linda or her dumb report on the whale just then. Jill wanted to think about Halloween.
But Robby grabbed the note and before Linda stopped talking it had gone halfway around the room.
That’s where it all started…there was something about Linda that made a lot of kids in her fifth-grade class want to see how far they could go…but nobody, Jill least of all, expected the fun to end where it did.”
“Davey has never felt so alone in her life. Her father is dead (shot in a holdup) and now her mother is moving the family to New Mexico to try to recover. Climbing in Los Alamos Canyons, Davey meets mysterous Wolf, who seems to understand the rage and fear she feels. Slowly, with Wolf’s help, Davey realizes that she must get on with her life. But when will she be ready to leave the past behind? Will she ever stop hurting?”
Like Judy Blume, Toni Morrison has multiple works that have been challenged or banned repeatedly for decades. Despite being considered integral works of literature, Morrison’s work continues to face censorship year after year. Celebrate Toni Morrison’s work and check them out at your Tyler libraries!
The Bluest Eye
“The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison’s first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author’s girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves’ garden do not bloom. Pecola’s life does change- in painful, devastating ways.
What its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child’s yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. The Bluest Eye remains one of Tony Morrisons’s most powerful, unforgettable novels- and a significant work of American fiction.”
“Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby.
Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.
Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Belovedis a towering achievement by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison.”
World-renown writer, poets, scholar, artist, and activist Maya Angelou is not a stranger when it comes to having her work banned or challenged in public institutions. Like the others on this list, Maya Angelou has one of the top banned books of all time.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
“Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Singscaptures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.
Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.
Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity.”—James Baldwin”
Even writers who are acclaimed for children’s literature face constant challenges in censorship. Since J.K. Rowling published the first installment of the Harry Potter series in 1997, these books have continuously topped the most banned or challenged books list. Despite only being published for three years, Harry Potter rose to number 48 of the most banned books from 1990-1999. From 2000-2009, it rested above 99 other top banned books of the decade.
“Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.
Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.
Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.”
We’re still not done celebrating this week! Check tomorrow’s post on censorship and book banning in the Tyler libraries’ backyard!