A reader challenge

Not a darn thing here that’s WoW or WAR or game related.  And if you read my other blog you’ve already read this.

Banned Books Week approaches – September 27 – October 4, 2008.  What follows is the list of the 100 books (and in some cases series) that were most frequently challenged here in the United States from 1990-2000.  I’m going to discuss the whole issue after the list – feel free to jump to the bottom to continue.  But for now, I have a challenge for you.

What I’d like you to do, reading this list, is a couple of things.  I’d like you to count how many you’ve read.  If you want to mark your copy, please feel free to do so.  And then… I challenge you pick at least one to read during Banned Books Week, and mention it on your blog (if you have one. And, as these things always go, I ask you to pass it along.  Yes, I’m tagging some people (after the list).  This may fly, it may not.  Let us begin…

  1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
  2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
  3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
  8. Forever by Judy Blume
  9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
  12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
  16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
  17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
  18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  19. Sex by Madonna
  20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
  21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
  24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
  26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
  27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
  28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
  29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
  30. The Goats by Brock Cole
  31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
  32. Blubber by Judy Blume
  33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
  34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
  35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
  36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
  37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
  41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
  45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
  46. Deenie by Judy Blume
  47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
  49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
  50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
  51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
  54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
  55. Cujo by Stephen King
  56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
  58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
  60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
  62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
  64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
  65. Fade by Robert Cormier
  66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
  67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
  68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
  69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  71. Native Son by Richard Wright
  72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
  73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
  74. Jack by A.M. Homes
  75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
  76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
  77. Carrie by Stephen King
  78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
  79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
  80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
  81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
  82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
  83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
  84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
  87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
  88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
  89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
  90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
  91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
  93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
  94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
  95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
  97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
  98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
  100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier


I’m a professional librarian.  One of the Big Issues for us is banned books.  Banned Books Week this year is September 27 – October 4, 2008.  Look, if you don’t think YOUR child should read this book, that’s your right and responsibility.  But when you say MY child shouldn’t read it, you’re overstepping your bounds.  It’s tremendously easy to get caught in the “morality trap” – to get falsely trapped into feeling ashamed because you’ve raised your kids to be smart, capable – ADULTS.  Does this mean I believe we should put copies of Playboy in the children’s reading section?  First, don’t be an ass.  That’s an argument of absurdity, absolutely childish and NOT what’s being argued in most cases.  The reality is that there are concepts that are too confusing and overwhelming if the reader is too young.  However, some of those issues are… more twisted in the minds of adults than the kids.

I just gave you the American Library Association’s list of the 100 books more frequently challenged from 1990-2000.  There are some books on there that I despised.  I thought them poorly written and not worth the ink and paper on which they’re printed.  There are at least two that I would be very uncomfortable seeing in the hands of a ten year old – and a couple which in some states would risk crossing certain obscenity in the hands of children laws.  (Stern’s book, for example.)  Nonetheless, provided the book was selected in accordance with a solidly developed collection development plan, I’d fight you tooth and claw if you tried to remove any of them from my library.  “For the children” is terribly abused, and far too often a flat lie people make even to themselves.

What I’ve discovered over the years is that most of the people who wish to ban the book haven’t read it.  They’ve been told of it, but haven’t read it.  There are exceptions, but they are EXCEPTIONS.  So in my own little way I’m trying to change that.  I don’t ask you to like the one you read.  Just… read it.  Think about it.  And realize that pretty much every book on here is considered GOOD by someone. (Sigh, yes, there are a couple written solely to shock.  There’s always the test…)

Challenge goes out to the following:

BigBearButt of the eponymously named site
Ratshag of Need More Rage
Sid, the Serial Ganker
Breana, the Gun Lovin’ Dwarf Chick
and Dagashai the Renoobed.

(I hadn’t realized how hard it was to stick to ONLY five candidates. There are so many friends of whom I want to see what they say about th is. If you didn’t get picked, never fear – surely your time shall come.)


~ by Kirk on September 18, 2008.

7 Responses to “A reader challenge”

  1. There you go making me think again =)

    While I do agree that some content is inapropriate for younger readers (or movie goers, TV watchers, video game players, etc.) I have never and will never support the outright banning of a book. Regulating to some extent (mature readers sections come to mind, kind of like movie ratings) but never banning.

    I read over the list and found that I had read at least 16 of the books listed there. I may have read 2 or 3 others some years ago, not really sure. I would have to read the jacket and prolouge to jog my addled brain.

    That in mind I have already decided on a couple to add to next months reading list.

  2. I have read about 15 or so of the books on the list, and have considered reading at some point at least 20 more. I suppose maybe I shouldn’t include Madonna’s book as one I’ve “read.” That might be stretching the truth. 🙂


  3. […] Kirk has laid down the challenge. And tagged me. […]

  4. […]The condensed version of the challenge is that Kirk wants us to[…]

  5. Hehe, the same “meme” (sans the pinging others) was started by a handful of my friends, too. Funny how that goes, and a surefire sign that you’re on to something :).

    Also funny to find it on yours. I have a sneaky suspicion you were copied without attribution, my friend, and I know precisely whom to blame for that. But, hey, copycatting is a sincere form of flattery, no?

  6. […] read. Stop casting Arcane Intellect on me. 25Sep08 So I recently got tagged by Ratshag for this. I honestly can’t remember if I’ve read some of those, but I think I remember reading […]

  7. Response up.

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