While we here at LeakyNews honor books every day of our lives, we wanted to join in with libraries and book sellers across the US in celebration of Banned Books Week. Here are some of our favorite banned books, and why they are so very important to keep on our shelves, in reach of any who may wish to read them.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Perks of Being A Wallflower has most of the flags that lead to a spot on the banned books list: sex, drugs, suicide, sexual abuse, and more. It’s a dark exploration of coming of age and the challenges that can come along with it. But with those challenges comes a story that underscores the power of friendship, family, trust, love, and compassion to make the hard stuff bearable. More than anything, the book holds a message of hope: hope for the future, hope for recovery, hope for change, and hope for life. So, yes, Perks has mature content. But if the themes that persist throughout those challenges are not good enough reasons to read this book as a teenager then I don’t know what is. [Jennifer]
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner has been banned for homosexuality, explicit language, religious viewpoint, and explicit sexuality. It has been called “unsuited to an age group.” What these book banners don’t take into account is the fact that it is a beautiful story. It tells the tale of one man’s search for redemption for his past actions. It gives much needed insight into a culture that is sorely misunderstood, particularly by the people trying to ban this book. No, elementary school kids probably should not read it. However, this is one of the most important books written in recent years. Based on the political climate in the United States, particularly regarding our relationship with Afghanistan, we should be encouraging high schoolers to read it, not restricting their access. [Amanda W.]
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
In a day and age when a book like Fifty Shades of Grey is among the best-and-fastest-selling novels of all time, it’s almost impossible to conceive the fact J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye continues to face banishment and challengers under the basis of containing “offensive language” and being “sexually explicit” and “unsuited to age group.” Salinger’s coming-of-age novel has long been praised since it’s publication in 1951. Holden Caulfield is not a hero; in fact, he’s not even a reliable narrator. Yet, there’s still a vitality, a realness, that transcends. The only thing Holden is meant to be is an adolescent, someone who was just as unsure and unsteady as we were in high school. Holden’s relationship with his sister Phoebe and his refusal to allow her to run away with him shows that Holden has some kind of responsibility, and his refusal to further peruse any action with “Sunny” shows he has a sense of empathy and morality. The irony of this book being challenged and banned yearly is that these advocates are themselves trying to be the catchers in the rye Holden himself aspires to become. They believe their mission is to keep children from losing their innocence by going over some sort of metaphorical cliff. [Kathy]The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
It always amazes me how so many people can see into the true essence of a book, and others have these profound morals fly right over their heads. Hunger Games speaks out about many important social issues; economic status, differing cultures, government regulating supplies, keeping districts in poverty, and most importantly, propaganda to support their evil. Not to mention the small problem of throwing children into an arena to fight to the death. Don’t know about you, but these are all main issues I would want my children to be weary of, not be ignorant to. [Olivia]