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Banned Books Week 2019 | Reading Challenge

Banned Books Week is almost upon us (September 22nd – 28th). This year, I want to actively participate in “highlight[ing] the value of free and open access to information” as well as show my “support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas”.


But first, a little about the week-long event (which is sponsored/made possible by American entities that uphold an internationally-important mission).

I wrote a blog post back in 2015 in which I talked about the background and importance of Banned Books Week, but for all the information you would ever need about this event, visit the Banned Books Week website here. For a basic description:

“Banned Books Week 2019 will be held September 22 – 28. The theme of this year’s event proclaims ‘Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark,’ urging everyone to ‘Keep the Light On.’

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.”

Furthermore, the American Library Association offers a look at the history behind Banned Books Week, and it is on their website that you can find more than a dozen lists of banned and frequently challenged books. It is quite likely that you will encounter a familiar title and/or author if you peruse these lists, which span from 1990 to today. Two of those lists are compilations of the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books from 1990-1999 and 2000-2009, and it is from these that I’m creating a personal reading challenge for Banned Books Week 2019.

The following list includes books from these two Top 100 lists that I own (the first number indicates the spot a title appears on the 90’s list, and the second number is from the early 2000’s list). I decided it would be easier to narrow down which books I want to read during Banned Books Week by picking from a list of titles that are readily available to me. And those titles are:

  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (-/60)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (3/6)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (37/88 )
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (60/99)
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George (32/91)
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (50/-)
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding (68/-)
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (-/50)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (40/21)
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (34/15)
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (84/72)
  • Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling (48/1)
  • Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (10/19)
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (-/66)
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (83/- )
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (5/14)
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (67/46)
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker (17/17)

Out of these books, I am choosing four to read during Banned Books Week this year. My selections are based on what I haven’t read and titles I read over a decade ago (and don’t remember well enough to talk about) – and they are:

  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison (I thought I had a copy when I wrote this blog post, but I guess I don’t so instead I’ll be reading…)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (a recent library book sale acquisition)
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

So from Sunday, September 22nd to Saturday, September 28th, I will attempt to read all four of these books, and then talk about them in a wrap-up. I may dedicate one blog post to each book, or just combine all of my thoughts into one post; I’m sure the best way will present itself to me during the week.

Have you read any of the four books on my Banned Books Week TBR? Are you planning on reading anything in particular to help “Keep the Light On”? Let’s chat in the comments.


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