Libra, this is an extra special time for you. Not only is it the time of year we celebrate your harmonious and joyful nature, but we also celebrate Banned Books Week. And who would be better ambassadors for the freedom to read than the ultimate truth seekers and peacekeepers? Here are two books that highlight some of your better qualities, Libra– and have also been recently challenged or banned.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2008 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults)
#2 on the Office of Intellectual Freedom’s Frequently Challenged Books of 2012 list, Alexie’s coming-of-age story is often challenged for offensive language, explicit sexual content, racist language and being unsuited to the age group. Junior is a young cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation when he makes the difficult choice to attend a school off the reservation with a mostly white student population. Illustrated by Ellen Forney, Junior’s story is filled with humor, triumph, adversity and tragedy. Despite winning numerous awards and accolades, Alexie’s book is still frequently challenged or banned in schools nationwide.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2004 Alex Award)
The subject of a recent challenge in Chicago Public Schools, Persepolis is Satrapi’s graphic novel memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution and the war with Iraq. Powerful and unforgettable, Satrapi shows what daily life was like in a country in the throws of a political and cultural revolution. Graphic depictions of torture and oppression lead to concerns of students’ “developmental preparedness.” The book was eventually retained in CPS but not until after a huge outcry from students, parents, teachers and the community over the importance students having access to this important work.
Challenging and banning books is not something that happens in other places or in different times. Today many work are still being challenged or banned. As professionals and readers of young adult literature it is important that we continue advocating for our readers to make sure that every one has access to books that speak to their experience or to their further exploration of our world and what it means to be human.
Libras, you are so in touch with justice, balance and knowledge, that there is no doubt Banned Books Week is an important celebration for you as well.
-Amanda Margis, currently reading Interstellar Pig by William Sleator and listening to It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller.