Banned Books Staff Picks

Hello readers!

We’re back with another round of Often Challenged Books that We Love Anyway–and why you should read them!


The Catcher In the Ryeby JD Salinger

It’s almost cliche to pick Salinger’s The Catcher In the Rye as one of my favorite banned books, but I’m choosing it because I, a grown man old enough to be Holden Caufield’s father by many years, kind of love the guy. I wouldn’t necessarily want to be Holden’s father, mind you, but I feel a almost-fatherly pride in his resistance to everything in the world he finds worthy of scorn, his steadfast refusal to give in and take everything at face value. Beneath Holden’s exo-skeleton, there is a humanity that feels, if not exactly hopeful and optimistic, far less nihilistic than detractors claim. Who can fault him for wanting the world to be a better place and for feeling antagonistic toward those ostensibly in charge who continually fail to even try to make it so?



Go Tell It on The Mountainby James Baldwin
Banned for “obscene language, rape, violence, and explicit sex”

James Baldwin’s semi-autobiographical debut is a sensitive exploration of race and evangelism, and one of my all time favorite novels. While brimming with religious doubt and blatant homo-eroticism, it is actually not “rife with profanity and explicit sex” as claimed by the Prince William County, VA school board in 1988. More likely, folks in Virginia weren’t thrilled by an openly gay African American man criticizing their religion. Regardless, this book is beautiful and should be required reading everywhere.



Drama, by Raina Telgemeier

I’m so tired of people challenging and banning books just because there are LGBTQ+ characters in them. Drama is probably one of the most challenged books of recent years, and that’s the saddest thing I can imagine. This graphic novel is a perfect synthesis of what it’s like to be in middle school drama–on stage and off of it! It’s a beautiful friendship story, a cute first romance, and an absolutely relatable school story for all kinds of kids. And yeah, there’s gay kids in it–it’s about theater! What do you expect?



A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, by Jill Twiss

Alright sure, if you think about why this book was made and the jab it is intended to make, I guess I can see why some people would be a bit riled by it (to those who might be: it still doesn’t give you the right to try and keep this book from anyone). But you only know that stuff if you’re an adult! If you’re a kid, all you’re gonna see is a cute story about bunnies who fall in love and want to hop together forever. On a more serious note, to ban a book for “including LGBTQ+ content” is effectively trying to erase an entire group of people. And that is just not okay. People of all kinds need to see themselves reflected in the arts. It can be so disheartening and damaging not to. This book is about appreciating people’s (or bunnies) differences and that is a wonderful thing. Life would be pretty dang boring if we were all the same.



A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein

A Light in the Attic was a book that I read over and over as a child. I always loved the absurdity of the poems and the things that the characters would get up to. To think that it was banned because people believed it would make their children behave disrespectfully is something that I think Silverstein would find quite humorous today.


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