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7 forbidden books you should read (and reread)

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From an American classic to silly research, the shocking reasons why these books are “banned” and why you should always read them.

The book ban movement is nothing new, but this year the Republican has made a new effort to revive it. Between January 1 and August 31, the American Library Association (ALA) documented 681 attempts to ban or restrict books. 1,651 unique titles were targeted. Those numbers were on par with levels for 2021, which was the worst year in book banning history, according to the ALA. And one Additional four months of data are yet to be determined.

Why?

A handful of politicians and parents want to purge library shelves of so-called “edgy cultural commentary,” uncomfortable interpretations of reality, discussions of gender identity, and provocative stories that could lead to political questioning (The handmaid’s tale, anyone?). Some of their attempts have been successful, but here’s a little secret: In America, you have the freedom to read books, even if they are banned!

What is the #1 most banned book?

It’s hard to pinpoint just one, but the ALA tracks the 10 most disputed books each year. Here is his list for 2021:

  • Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
  • lawn boy by Jonathan Evison
  • Not all boys are blue by George M. Johnson
  • out of darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
  • The hate you give by Angie Thomas
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Me and Earl and the dying girl by Jesse Andrews
  • The bluest eye by Toni Morrison
  • This book is gay by Juno Dawson
  • Beyond the magenta by Susan Kuklin

7 forbidden books you should read (or reread)

Reader’s Digest has compiled a list of 30 books banned every American should read, and we’ve narrowed it down to seven:

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
This autobiographical graphic novel follows the journey of the author who proves to be non-binary to his family.
Banned for: Discuss gender identity, sexuality and asexuality
Read at: Better understand and become a better ally of members of the LGBTQ+ community

The kite runner by Khalid Hosseini
This novel transports readers to Afghanistan, where a wealthy man’s son and his servant’s son forge an unlikely friendship.
Banned for: Referring to sexual violence and “promoting Islam”
Read at: Appreciate the powers of redemption and love that transcend continents

Maus by Art Spiegelman
This graphic novel memoir details the horrors of the Holocaust through cartoons.
Banned for: Nudity (of animals) and profanity
Read at: Understand that history can be uncomfortable and should not be whitewashed

out of darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
The romance novel follows the passionate love affair between a Mexican American girl and a black boy in 1930s Texas.
Banned for: Graphic descriptions of teen sex
Read at: Learn about complex topics like segregation, rape, and forbidden love

Kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee
Set in 1960s Alabama, the classic follows a young girl, her brother and her father during the arrest and trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman.
Banned for: “Inappropriate” conversations about racism and sexuality
Read at: Remember that the long-standing and deeply rooted injustices of our country still exist today

where the wild things are by Maurice Sendak
After young Max is sent to bed without dinner, the story follows his dreams in a dark land where he becomes a kind of Wild Things and leads a loud and hair-raising “Wild Rumpus”.
Banned for: Involving childhood “starvation” and “disturbing supernatural” themes
Read at: Feel like a child again and escape to an imaginary world for a few minutes

Where is Waldo? by Martin Handford
No, it’s not a joke! The Illustrated Find and Find Books with Barely a Few Words book is frequently on the ALA’s banned book list.
Banned for: An image of a partially shirtless woman sunbathing in a scene
Read at: To feel like a child again. Let’s go. All it can’t be serious!

Click here to discover 23 other highly recommended forbidden books.