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Banned Books Week 2017: Our Top Picks

22 September 2017

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24-30 September is Banned Books Week, a celebration of stories that have been censored or taken off bookshelves around the world. Stories for young people are some of the most commonly banned, usually because the subject matter is considered inappropriate.

The young adult books on this list have been challenged in schools and libraries in various countries, (usually by adults) because they discuss themes such as sex, drugs, mental health, identity, alcoholism and abuse.

Here are our top picks (and the reasons they were taken off the shelves!)

Forever by Judy Blume
This novel was one of the first to discuss sex and relationships in a frank and honest way. It caused uproar when it was first published, but is still popular today.

Junk by Melvin Burgess
The story of Gemma and Tar, teenage runaways who end up living in a squat and whose lives descend into alcohol, drugs, prostitution, failed rehab and prison. The author said that “Junk wasn’t even the first book to be open minded about drugs, but it perhaps was the first where the characters made such bad choices and left it up to the reader to judge them.”

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Perks of Being a Wallflower follows Charlie, who writes a series of letters to an anonymous friend. It was criticised for its references to sex, abuse, and drug use, but many young people have found the book helpful; it’s one of the titles on our Reading Well for Young People scheme.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
A native American boy from a dysfunctional family attends an all-white school away from the reservation and encounters bullying and racism. The book was banned over accusations of being anti-family and cultural insensitive, portraying addiction, using offensive language and being sexually explicit.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
You might have seen the controversial Netflix adaptation of this book; the story features a boy who receives a box of cassettes recorded by his classmate, Hannah, who has killed herself. The book was criticised for its references to sex, drugs and suicide.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Rose meets her friend, Windy, every summer but one year, they start to explore their interest in boys and pay attention to the emotional lives of adults and other people their age around them. This graphic novel was challenged because it included LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and it was considered too sexually explicit.

H2. Get involved

Have you read any of the books on the list? Do you agree with the decision of some schools and libraries to ban them? Let us know on Twitter @ReadingHackers

See the full YA list chosen by Islington Libraries for Banned Books Week