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Where literature acts as a gateway to empathy, understanding, and personal growth, it’s surprising that some books continue to face bans. Though often celebrated for their powerful narratives and relatable characters, these modern children and young adult books have stirred controversy due to their honest portrayals of life’s complexities. Join us in exploring these banned books that, despite facing challenges, have left an indelible mark on young readers, fostering conversations about acceptance, diversity, and the human experience.
“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
This book brings to light the struggles of racial injustice through the eyes of Starr, a 16-year-old who witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed friend by a police officer. Despite its relevance and powerful message, “The Hate U Give” has faced challenges for its frank portrayal of racism.
“George” by Alex Gino
“George” tells the story of a young transgender girl, Melissa, who aspires to play Charlotte in her school’s production of “Charlotte’s Web.” This heartwarming tale has faced bans for its honest portrayal of gender identity, making it an important and controversial addition to modern children’s literature.
“Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson
This novel deals with the aftermath of sexual assault as Melinda, the protagonist, grapples with her trauma and ultimately finds her voice. Despite its critical acclaim, “Speak” has been challenged for its explicit content and its portrayal of sensitive themes.
“Drama” by Raina Telgemeier
A graphic novel about theater, friendship, and self-discovery, “Drama” has faced bans for its LGBTQ+ characters and themes. It’s a modern classic that encourages acceptance and understanding, even as it stirs up controversy in some communities.
“Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher
This novel, which deals with sensitive topics like suicide and bullying, has sparked discussions across the globe. At the same time, praised for its honest portrayal of mental health issues, “Thirteen Reasons Why” has been banned in some places due to concerns about its potential impact on vulnerable readers.
“And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Based on a true story, this children’s book tells the tale of two male penguins, Roy and Silo, who form a family at the Central Park Zoo. Despite its heartwarming message of love and acceptance, this book has faced bans for its depiction of same-sex relationships.
“Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan
This novel follows the lives of several LGBTQ+ teens, emphasizing the importance of love, acceptance, and understanding. While celebrated for its representation, “Two Boys Kissing” has been challenged for its frank portrayal of same-sex relationships.
“Looking for Alaska” by John Green
A coming-of-age story about love, friendship, and loss, “Looking for Alaska” has faced bans for its explicit content and portrayal of teen experiences. Despite its popularity, the book’s honest depiction of teenage life has raised concerns in some communities.
“I Am Jazz” by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
This children’s book, co-written by transgender teen Jazz Jennings, shares her story of self-discovery and acceptance. “I Am Jazz” has faced challenges for its transgender themes, highlighting the ongoing conversation about inclusivity and understanding.
“This One Summer” by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
A graphic novel exploring adolescence, family, and friendship themes, “This One Summer” has faced bans for its mature content. Despite its critical acclaim, the book’s portrayal of teen experiences has raised concerns in some communities.
“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie
This novel follows the journey of Junior, a Native American teen, as he navigates life on and off the Spokane Indian Reservation. Despite its critical acclaim and National Book Award win, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” has faced bans for its explicit content and themes.
“Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out” by Susan Kuklin
This non-fiction book provides firsthand accounts from transgender and genderqueer teens about their experiences. “Beyond Magenta” has been challenged for its frank discussions of gender identity and sexuality despite its educational value.
“A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo” by Jill Twiss
A children’s book that follows the adventures of Marlon Bundo, a lovable bunny, and his journey to find love and acceptance. While celebrated for its message of inclusivity, the book has faced challenges due to its LGBTQ+ themes.
“All American Boys” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Told from two perspectives, this novel explores racial tensions and police violence in a small town. Despite its relevance and critical acclaim, “All American Boys” has faced bans for portraying sensitive themes and language.
“Juliet Takes a Breath” by Gabby Rivera
This coming-of-age novel follows Juliet, a Puerto Rican lesbian, as she explores her identity and finds her place in the world. Celebrated for its representation, “Juliet Takes a Breath” has faced bans for its LGBTQ+ themes and frank discussions of sexuality.
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Victoria Cornell helps women adopt a positive mindset even when the struggles of motherhood feel overwhelming. On her sites, Motherhood Life Balance, Neon Moon and Bookworm Era she writes about ways to reduce stress with mindset, manifesting, goal planning, productivity, and more.