Often, these are the books that challenge stereotypes. That tell it like it is. That change (and save) lives. Sometimes they're just a good story that contains something controversial, and sometimes they're, well to some people, challenging.
In 2010, once again the #1 most challenged book in America was one of my favorite picture books of all time, "And Tango Makes Three."
But... They're so cute!
What's "dangerous" about this book? By telling the sweet (and true) story of two male penguins who become a couple and then loving parents, "And Tango Makes Three" directly challenges the stereotype that gay men can't find love - that we can't be parents, and if we do somehow become parents, we can't be good parents. Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, with Henry Cole's heart-warming illustrations, have created a story where it's so clear that LOVE is what makes a family - and with the parallel of penguins - readers see that gay love is that same kind of love.
There are other wonderful books on this list of the top ten most challenged books: "Crank" by Ellen Hopkins, a searing novel in verse about a good teen girl's descent into drug addition. Ellen has gotten so much flack about her books in which teens make bad decisions with sometimes horrible consequences - they're riveting and wrenching and so important - because no one who reads "Crank" is going to think, "wow, I gotta try that stuff. It sounds great." Because it doesn't.
"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie, a wonderful, funny, and not-afraid-to-look-at-the-ugly-stuff novel that I talk about in my Smashing Stereotypes workshops all the time as an example of how writers can deal with stereotypes not by ignoring them but by tackling them head-on.
There are popular books like "The Hunger Games," by Suzanne Collins and "Twilight," by Stephenie Meyer.
There are queer books, like "And Tango Makes Three" and "Revolutionary Voices.
And even a few books I haven't heard of till now. (Sonya Sones! Your books are awesome, but I haven't read this one... yet.)
So I want to put out a CHALLENGE to you:
Let's read them.
Let's read all ten of these books as our protest to the ridiculous notion that books of literary merit should be pulled from library collections to avoid offending certain people.
Here are the ten titles with the reasons given for challenging each:
Top ten most frequently challenged books of 2010
1. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, and sexually explicit
4. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
Reasons: drugs, offensive language, and sexually explicit
5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
6. Lush, by Natasha Friend
Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
7. What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
8. Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint
9. Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
Reasons: homosexuality and sexually explicit
10. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: religious viewpoint and violence
Because a book that is challenging shouldn't be challenged - it should be read and discussed.
Leave your update in comments to share how you're doing with the challenge - and I will as well!