How We Can Support Intellectual Freedom
Between the Lines / October 1, 2016

              Between the Lines is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these. Banned Books Week is wrapping up today. But just because a week celebrating Banned Books is ending doesn’t mean we can’t continue to celebrate banned books ourselves, discuss censorship in literature, and how it can best be combatted. I recently got into conversations with 4thhouseontheleft and M Reads Books around how we can make a difference when it comes to understanding why books are challenged and banned in our communities. I mentioned a few things in my first 2016 Banned Books Week post, but I barely scratched the surface. Therefore, to wrap up our week, let’s explore what we can do! Note: On the United States Banned Books Week website there are additional resources broken up by your relationship to banned books. Feel free to stop here and explore more!   Read Banned and Challenged Books As I mentioned in my Understanding Challenged Books post, reading and reviewing books on the banned/challenged list are critical. By spending our time, money, and resources on these books we are making a statement to libraries,…

5 Classic Challenged Books You Should Read
Between the Lines , List / September 29, 2016

              Between the Lines is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these.  Banned Books Week is almost over. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to read banned and challenged books! I hope that you will continue to keep reading and talking about banned and challenged books through the rest of the year. In this post, we will explore some of my favorite Classics which have been challenged or banned.   1 — The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien What is it? The Lord of the Rings is the fantasy series that completely changed how fantasy is written. J.R.R. Tolkien was a linguistic genius who spoke over 10 languages. He began inventing functional languages for fun, and then developed a world in which they were spoken, which required a series of legends to support it… which led us to the creation of High Fantasy. The pinnacle of High Fantasy Adventure stories, we follow Frodo Baggins on a complex journey to destroy the One Ring. It’s a work of genius. Why is it challenged? The Lord of the Rings has been challenged for various reasons since its publication…

Slaughterhouse-Five
Book Review / September 28, 2016

Title: Slaughterhouse-Five Author: Kurt Vonnegut Genre: Classic Publisher: Dell Release Date: November 3rd, 1991 Format: Paperback Pages: 215 Source: Library First Published: 1969 Prisoner of war, optometrist, time-traveller – these are the life roles of Billy Pilgrim, hero of this miraculously moving, bitter and funny story of innocence faced with apocalypse. Slaughterhouse 5 is one of the world’s great anti-war books. Centring on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden in the Second World War, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know. (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   A commonly banned book, Slaughterhouse-Five, Or the Children’s Crusade is a powerful piece of classic American literature. Believe it or not, this was my first time reading a Vonnegut novel. Sometimes, I reflect back on my public school English curriculum, and I wonder what my teachers were thinking. There are so many classic authors I have never read. But then again, there are a lot of classic authors… I digress. Kurt Vonnegut was a prolific American author who had a perchance for the darkly comic in his writing. His writing quickly became classics of American counterculture and he was an…

5 Challenged Diverse Books You Should Read
Between the Lines / September 26, 2016

    .         Between the Lines is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these. As we have entered Banned Books Week, let’s address some frequently challenged books that are worth your time. Specifically: books featuring diversity. Diversity in literature has been a hot topic lately. With campaigns such as #WeNeedDiverseBooks, blogs like Naz’s Read Diverse Books popping up all over the place, and hashtags such as #OwnVoices taking over twitter we know this isn’t a phase. At some point in the future, I’ll wax eloquent on my reasons why we need diversity in literature. But, until then, check out the books below that highlight diversity in literature: 1 — And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell What is it? A children’s picture book illustrating the true story of a same-sex penguin couple in the Central Park zoo. Two male penguins, Roy and Silo, start taking turns sitting on rocks during brooding season, and get quite depressed when it doesn’t hatch. Noticed by a zoo keeper, Roy and Silo are given a real egg that was abandoned by the mother and begin to create their own family….

The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian
Book Review / September 24, 2016

Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Author: Sherman Alexie Genre: Fiction Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Release Date: September 12th, 2007 Format: Hardback Pages: 230 Source: Library Illustrator: Ellen Forney Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live. With a forward by Markus Zusak, interviews with Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney, and four-color interior art throughout, this edition is perfect for fans and collectors alike. (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a book that is simultaneously hilarious and heart-breaking. A powerful story told with a dry sense of…

5 Challenged Graphic Novels You Should Read
Between the Lines / September 23, 2016

              Between the Lines is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these. To prepare you for Banned Books Week, let’s address some frequently challenged books that are worth your time. Specifically: graphic novels. The popularity of graphic novels has risen significantly in the last decade. They share more than just superhero stories now. In fact, none of the graphic novels listed below are superhero stories: 1 — Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples What is it? Saga certainly falls into the epic space opera genre. But, at the same time, it’s nothing like your typical space opera. It has been described as “Star Wars meets Game of Thrones” and compared to The Lord of the Rings and Romeo and Juliet. The story of Alana and Marko, a husband and wife from opposing races and sides of a generations-long war. They just want to live in peace and protect their daughter Hazel who is the first interspecies child between their races. After all, now that the world knows Hazel exists, they need to kill her to prevent the war from ending. Why…

Understanding Challenged Books
Between the Lines / September 20, 2016

      Between the Lines is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these.   September 25th through October 1st, 2016 is Banned Books Week in the United States. This event was launched in 1982 as a response to surges in book challenging across the United States in schools, bookstores, and libraries. According to the American Library Association (ALA), more than 11,300 books have been challenged since the start of this advocacy week.   Wait. Is there a difference between challenging and banning a book? Yes! A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict books based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those books.   Why does it matter if people challenge books? This is a violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Removing access to literature, no matter what it contains, is a restriction of free thought and speech. Censorship can be subtle, or blatant and overt, but it is always harmful. Just because someone, or a group of someone’s, finds an idea offensive or disagreeable does not mean that it’s right. After all, as Noam…