Want to get a teen or tween to do something? Tell them that they’re not allowed.
Banned Books Week, which takes place the last week in September, is a great way to encourage kids to read. Point out that in certain places, they would not be allowed to read particular books.
This year’s theme for Banned Books Week is “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark Keep the Light On.” The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles lists of challenged books as reported in the media and submitted by librarians and teachers across the country.
George by Alex Gino
Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Despite winning multiple awards and being the most searched-for book on Goodreads during its debut year, this YA novel was challenged and banned in school libraries and curriculums because it was considered “pervasively vulgar” and because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
This YA novel that was made into a popular Netflix series was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide.
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
This graphic novel was banned in school libraries because it includes LGBTQIA+ characters and was considered “confusing.”
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Consistently challenged since its publication in 2007 for acknowledging issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality, this National Book Award winner was challenged in school curriculums because of profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.
Captain Underpants series written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: series was challenged because it was perceived as encouraging disruptive behavior, while Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot was challenged for including a same-sex couple. (While the ALA doesn’t say this, I’d like to add that these could be a lovely antidote to high school stress.)
If you really want to get your kid to do something, do it yourself and find pleasure in it. At least, that’s one way to raise a kid who reads who grows up to be an adult who reads, according to the article Why Do Some People Become Lifelong Readers in The Atlantic.
The experts in the article had additional suggestions for encouraging kids to read, including “talk about books during meals or car rides, indicating that they’re just as compelling a subject of conversation as the day’s events; make regular stops at libraries and bookstores, and stay a while; and give books as birthday gifts.”
You can do any of those with a few titles from Banned Books Week. Adolescents are most likely to get into titles of their own choosing, so start by talking about Banned Books Week generally and see what titles grab them.
Being willing to read what interests your teen can be the start of a great shared experience and talking about why they were banned is a great jumping off point.
You May Also Like: Kids books that were once banned and are now beloved
Prior Post: Favorite pieces about raising adolescents that I’ve read recently and found helpful
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