Earlier in the week, we asked for readers to contribute micro-reviews of their favorite banned books. This morning, we’re sharing what we got. It’s no surprise that some titles are listed more than once. Feel free to add your own micro-reviews in the comments!
Animal Farm by George Orwell
This book is as relevant today as the day it was written. A guide to recognizing the signs of totalitarianism and repression in any culture, context or country. A must read if we want to stop history from repaying itself.
Susan Hansen – Austin, TX – @SusanHa96214211
Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants by Dav Pilkey
Instant interest by kids who might want to combine fun and reading – imagine that! George and Harold battle their teacher and get reluctant readers to stretch vocabulary while they howl. I use the Silly Name Chart on pages 90/91 to do attendance during Banned Book Week.
Dia Macbeth - Edmonton/Alberta/Canada - @DiaMacMighty
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park is a coming-of-age story about two 16-year-old outcasts who fall in love over comics on the school bus. Eleanor, an overweight redhead who comes from an abusive home, meets Park, a half-Korean middle-class boy, and the book narrates their developing relationship through alternating points of view shared between the two. Why is it worth reading? Despite tragedy, there is hope: Eleanor & Park helped glue my own broken teenage heart back together.
Chelsea Lonsdale - Ypsilanti, MI – @parablematernal
Eleanor & Park is a delectable account of first love. This unlikely pair bond over comic books and mix tapes on the school bus. The audio version was terrific and the actors really captured the emotions of Eleanor and Park.
Leslie Wilson - Madison, Wisconsin
Eleanor and Park is about punk rock, true love and being an outsider. It brings to light the possibility of finding beauty in the midst of a terrible situation while at the same time recognizing the reality of its ugliness. Readers will be forced out of their rose colored glasses and into a story where they will discover empathy, perspective and legitimately good music.
Emily - St. Louis, MO – @emilyann10103
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
How could someone ban a book about burning books? Fahrenheit 451 is a searingly beautiful story about humanity’s need for real experiences, personal connections, and the power of words.
Maria Selke - West Chester, PA – @mselke01
For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
This book changed me, changed forever how I think of books. For the first time I began to see the difference between a ‘good story’ and literature.And yet this book is both a wonderfully enthralling story and an example of the power of the author’s voice. I couldn’t stop raving about it to my friends when I read it – 25 years ago.
Shirin Petit - Mumbai, India - @shirinpetit
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Books change me; I doubt I could live in another’s world for a while without at least some small change in perspective on my own. But no book has changed me for the better like Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird did when I read it as a middle schooler. It opened my eyes to what fear and ignorance can do, what true courage can look like, and it helped me define what sort of person I wanted to be. I think it helped me become a teacher many years later.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
This quirky tale involves rich, vivid characters, a touch of magic, and the humorous demise of horrible aunts. What’s not to love?!
Holly Kregel - Wyoming, MI - @HKregel
Looking For Alaska by John Green
Looking for Alaska is an amazing book about friendship, love, and one very special girl. It is a story that will make you consider how far you should go to help a friend, but you’ll laugh your way through. John Green is a fabulously funny author, and one of the few adults who really understands how to write like a teenager.
Kathryn Cernera - Ithaca, NY - @kcernera
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969) by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Billy Pilgrim is bounced around in time, experiencing his life out of sequence, a captive of forces beyond his control. He (like the author) survives the slaughter of Dresden in the cellar of a slaughterhouse, but he is also a captive of multidimensional aliens on the planet Tralfamadore who perceive time all at once and already know everything that ever happens. Every death, whether of multitudes or one by one is noted, “and so it goes.”
David Walthour - Millersburg, PA
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
This book is both hilarious and heartbreaking. It accurately describes how a teen boy thinks and feels while at the same time showing the difficulty of living in two very different worlds. I loved this book.
Stephanie Lowden - Madison, WI
Alexie writes a powerful, humorous, insightful, personal story that gives a realistic voice to a character we don’t often see in YA lit. The story of Junior, who leaves the rez to go to a white school for a chance at a better education and future, resonates with themes of hope, forgiveness, family, friendship, discrimination, strength of character, identity, and what it takes to stay true to oneself in the face of overwhelming obstacles.
Jillian Heise - Southeastern Wisconsin - @heisereads
I write my reviews on Goodreads in the form of Haiku. I thought I’d do the same for Alexie’s novel:
Meet Arnold, tender,
Funny. And living his truth.
A full-time human.
Rhonda McCormack - Phoenix, Arizona - @rmackwrites
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Cormier’s The Chocolate War is a book I’ve read in small groups and as a read aloud, discussing the courage of students (and people in general) who step forward to share individual opinions. The main character shows such courage in his conviction not to follow the crowd, to do what he believes is right.
Linda Baie - Denver, Colorado - @LBaie
The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Adam Rex
When bugs start setting up camp in and around his body, a cowboy hitches up his horse and rides down to the river with his dog who is instructed to watch the cowboy’s clothes while he bathes. But problems arise when the dog, no longer finding his owner’s scent familiar, doesn’t allow the cowboy his clothes back. The writing is full of humor and lush sensory details and the illustrations are hilarious, beautiful, and endearing at the same time.
Beth Shaum – Canton, MI - @BethShaum
The Giver by Lois Lowry
This novel follows a young boy’s realization that his seemingly utopian society has dark and almost inconceivable secrets. The book is wonderfully written, and the reader is completely caught up with the main character as he gains more knowledge about his world and ultimately makes a decision that will forever change his life. I wholeheartedly recommend this book, as it provides such powerful emotions and causes the reader to analyze his perspectives on morality.
Sara - British Columbia, Canada -@swreading
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
While it is disturbing to read about the lives of children in a less than perfect home, it is reality for many kids across the world and cannot be ignored. This was an eye-opening read for me and made me appreciate my childhood and my parents. There is humor in this story and redemption – an important possibility for all to see!
Heidi - Jackson, TN – @heidicompteach
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Given the subject matter, I could not believe how much I adored this book. It is such an important story about humanity, family, and community. And many of the themes are still relevant today. This book can bring you to your knees, in humility for its lessons, and in gratitude that it was written.
Shirin Petit - Mumbai, India - @shirinpetit
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the best ever written. War and evil are themes which are very much part of our reality, but the continuous message in the trilogy is that there is goodness in this world that is worth fighting for. The “weapon of choice” present in Lord of the Rings is hope, so it is my hope that The Lord of the Rings trilogy is picked up and read during Banned Books Week in “hopes” of sharing this wonderful story.
Sandra Delgado - El Paso, TX - @Sadcampanita025
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
A book about life and truth that happens every day. Something to be shared and not hidden.
Jeannie – Virginia
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
T. J. Jones is the quick-witted champion of the underdogs – and the one guy who can swim on a high school swim team that lacks a pool, the guy who has made the swim team happen so he can get his band of misfit teammates their own letter jackets as a way to upend the social system of Cutter High. You’ll laugh, you’ll sob – but you won’t regret reading one page of this incredible book and it’s examination of race, loyalty, fairness, school spirit, (dis)ability, and domestic violence.
Cindy Minnich – Millersburg, PA – @cbethm