Category: Book List

International Plant Appreciation Day: 4 Books to Celebrate

As April 13th is International Plant Appreciation Day, it is the perfect time to let your love for the earth and plants to grow. In order to celebrate, it’s best to spend some time out in your garden or create one! Having a plant can have many wonders, including reducing stress and anxiety, help alleviate wounds, or increase focus. Enjoy a nice cup of tea while you read these books, and remember to water your plants!

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10 Most Challenged Books of 2020

Every year, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom releases a list of the top ten most banned or challenged books of the year. They take surveys and reports from libraries, schools, and independent media; and even then, they reported that “82-97% of book challenges remain unreported and receive no media.”

That being said, of the 273 books the ALA saw mentioned as being challenged, these are those that were the most recurrent.

 

  1. George by Alex Gino

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

George focuses on a young, born male, child who knows deep down she is a girl. When the class puts on Charlotte’s Web, George goes through challenges to try and audition for the role of Charlotte.

Despite being an overall hopeful story, this book was restricted, challenged, and banned for LBGTQIA+ content, religious standards, and not “reflecting the values of our community.”

 

2. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

From Amazon, “The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.”

This novel has been banned or challenged because of public statements from both authors, a claim of limited storytelling that does not encompass the full picture, and because it “does not encompass racism against all people.”

 

 

3. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kelly

All American Boys
Image Via BPS EdTech Team

This novel centers on a 16-year old boy who is mistakenly arrested, violently at that, for shoplifting at a bodega where he was just shopping. The story follows the victim, Rashad, as well as the adopted son of the cop, Quinn, as they must grow up quickly and learn to deal with the reality of police brutality.

All American Boys was banned for a myriad of reasons, including: drug use, alcoholism, anti-police views, and because the topic was “too sensitive” for the times.

 

4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson's 'Speak'
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Speak is a novel about a freshman in high school learning to be herself and grow in the face of trauma. It is a story of healing against all odds and learning to use your voice to stand up for yourself.

This classic novel was banned or challenged because it was said to be “anti-men” and for its inclusion of sexual assault.

 

5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

This National Book Award winning novel follows Junior, a boy who grows up on an Indian reservation, but transfers to a public school for high school. The school is almost all white, and the only other Indian is the school’s mascot.

This was banned for profanity, sexual references, and alleged misconduct by the author.

 

6. Something Happened in Our Town (A Child’s Story of Racial Injustice) by Marianne Celano

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

This children’s story follows two families, one white and one black, as they try to understand a police shooting in their town.

This important story was banned or challenged because of what was thought to be anti-police views. Are you sensing a common theme here yet?

 

 

 

7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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If you’re unfamiliar, To Kill a Mockingbird focuses on the Finch family: children Scout and Jem and their father, acclaimed lawyer, Atticus. Set in the Great Depression, the children are forced into a situation of watching racism unfold in the justice system as Atticus defends a black man for a crime it is clear he did not commit.

Though this book has been a staple in high school literature classes, it was still challenged for its racial slurs, the image of the “white savior,” and for a negative portrayal of the black experience.

 

8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men book cover
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Another classic, this novel follows two brothers, one neurodivergent, as they pursue their dreams of opening their own farm and ranch.

This book is yet another banned for racial slurs.

 

9. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

the Bluest Eye
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

The first novel by the beloved (pun-intended) author Toni Morrison, this story follows Pecola, a young girl who wishes for blue eyes so that the world will see her differently.

Contrary to the other books in this list about racial issues, this book was actually banned for sexual abuse and misconduct.

 

10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

the hate u give book cover
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

This modern classic follows Starr, a young African American teen caught between two worlds: that of her home in the hood, and that of her primarily white private school. When one of Starr’s friends is killed in an incident of police brutality, Starr must face this divide head on and decide where her loyalties lie.

This book was, again, banned for anti-police messaging amongst profanity as well. Thomas described the ban as a “badge of honor.”

 

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Did these bans serve purpose, or are they merely trying to stifle the harsher truths of a modern country riddled with injustice?

How do you feel about banning books? Let us know!

 

Feature Article with Images from Amazon

5 Fantasy Books Coming Out This Month

With the beginning of April comes new book releases. We have a lot of very exciting ones this month! Read on to find out what is coming out this month for fantasy.

1. “the infinity courts”

image via goodreads

Akemi Dawn Bowman‘s book The Infinity Courts, is set to release this month. We have been provided with the following description: “Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years. The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there. When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all. As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.”

 

 

2. “witches steeped in gold”

image via goodreads

Ciannon Smart’s book Witches Steeped in Gold hit shelves on the 20th of April. The description of this story states the following: “Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom – and vengeance. Jazmyne is the Queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power. Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But power is intoxicating, revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain – except the lengths they will go to win this game. This Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut about two enemy witches who must enter into a deadly alliance to take down a common enemy has the twisted cat-and-mouse of Killing Eve with the richly imagined fantasy world of Furyborn and Ember in the Ashes.”

 

3. “the light of the midnight stars”

image via goodreads

The Light of the Midnight Stars, by Rena Rossner has promised an intriguing read with this description: “Deep in the Hungarian woods, the sacred magic of King Solomon lives on in his descendants. Gathering under the midnight stars, they pray, sing and perform small miracles – and none are more gifted than the great Rabbi Isaac and his three daughters. Each one is blessed with a unique talent – whether it be coaxing plants to grow, or predicting the future by reading the path of the stars. When a fateful decision to help an outsider ends in an accusation of witchcraft, fire blazes through their village. Rabbi Isaac and his family are forced to flee, to abandon their magic and settle into a new way of life. But a dark fog is making its way across Europe and will, in the end, reach even those who thought they could run from it. Each of the sisters will have to make a choice – and change the future of their family forever.”

 

4. “blessed monsters”

image via goodreads

The third book in Emily A. Duncan‘s Something Dark and Holy Series, Blessed Monsters, also releases this month. Here is the blurb we have been provided: “The girl, the monster, the prince, the queen. They broke the world. And some things can never be undone. In Emily A. Duncan’s Blessed Monsters, they must unite once more to fight the dark chaos they’ve unleashed—but is it already too late?”

 

5. “these feathered flames”

image via goodreads

Alexandra Overy‘s These Feathered Flames, has been presented to us with this description: “When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm. But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned. As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother.”

Feature image via HDQwalls

 

5 Books to Read for Dr. Maya Angelou’s Day of Reading

Whether you are new to the works of Angelou or a long-time admirer, in honor of her birthday today and as part of her Day of Reading, here are 5 books by Maya Angelou that you should read!

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