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Banned Book Club

Ages 13-17 | Registration Required - Register with form below.

The Banned Book Club meets once a month on Wednesdays from 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. in the program room on the first floor. Snacks available. Please contact cys@bellevillelibrary.ca for inquiries into this program.

Why Banned Books?

In this book club, members read and discuss novels that have been banned or challenged at schools and other libraries. By reading these contentious books, we hope to explore the themes and subjects in them that have generated controversy.  Each month we will debate whether the book should be limited to certain age groups. Without solely dwelling on the controversial elements of the novel, we invite members to share their thoughts on the parts they liked and disliked.

About Book Selection Process: The criteria for selection is not simply the book having been banned or challenged at an institution. We want to examine books that have seen support from local and national communities asking for their re-inclusion into young adult library collections. Often, the books selected will have received literary awards as young adult reading. By selecting a particular novel, the library does not endorse every controversial theme within the book. We are advocating for open and free expression that does not incite violence or hatred of other races, cultures, and genders. 

A short summary of the controversial nature of each book, as well as awards won, can be found below. Please use your own discretion to decide if you will be comfortable reading these books.

     September 28             October 26             November 23              January 11

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (September 28)

This One Summer was named the most challenged book of 2016 in the American Library Association’s annual Top Ten Challenged Books list, with complaints citing its inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters, drug use, and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes. (ALA)

In 2016, libraries in Henning, Minnesota and Longwood, Florida removed This One Summer from their shelves after parents complained of the book's use of profanity and mature themes. After the incident in Florida in February, Mariko Tamaki said that the book is “listed as being for readers ranging 12–18,” and “contains depictions of young people talking about, and dealing with, adult things." However, she stated that she thinks it is an important book for young people. The removals from libraries have been challenged by the National Coalition Against Censorship. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund also challenged its removal in a K-12 library in Henning, Minnesota but restored the book in the library for students with parental permission in grades 10-12. (Wikipedia)

Awards:

  • 2014 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Graphic Novel.
  • 2015 Eisner Award for Best New Graphic Novel.
  • 2015 Printz Honor for best book written for teens.
  • 2015 Caldecott Honor for most distinguished American picture book for children.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (October 26)

The American Library Association listed the book as one of the ten most-challenged books of 2017, 2018, and 2020 "because it was considered 'pervasively vulgar,'" contained "drug use, profanity, and offensive language," as well as sexual references, and "was thought to promote an anti-police message. (ALA)

In late 2017, The Hate U Give was banned by school officials in Katy, Texas, where it was challenged for “inappropriate language.” District Superintendent Lance Hindt pulled the book from shelves during the review process in violation of the district’s own review policies, claiming he did so based on its “pervasive vulgarity and racially-insensitive language…not its substantive content or the viewpoint expressed.” The move drew widespread condemnation from free expression advocates, but the actions of a teen in the district helped save the day. Ny’Shira Lundy collected 4,000 signatures on a petition calling for the restoration of the book. The district relented and put it back on shelves, but it wasn’t a total victory. Students are required to get parental permission to check it out. (bannedbookweek.org)

  • 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Young Adult Fiction
  • 2018 Shortlisted for British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year
  • 2018 Carnegie Medal Honor
  • 2018 Printz Honor for best book written for teens.
  • 2018 Waterstones Children's Book Prize for Older Fiction

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe (November 23)

In 2021, when book banning efforts soared, “Gender Queer” became the most challenged book in the United States, according to the American Library Association and the free speech organization PEN. Soon after being removed from Fairfax County Public Schools, the book was banned in Brevard Public Schools, a district in Florida. A group of parents in New Jersey challenged the book and several others around the same time, calling them “perverse.” Wake County Public Libraries in North Carolina have pulled the book, saying its illustrations “do not align” with its book selection policy. (The New York Times)

Stephanie Mencimer, writing for the progressive website Mother Jones, argues that critics of the book have misrepresented the book as pornographic by focusing on a small number of explicit illustrations, which are generally presented without context. Tara Lehmann, publicity director at Oni Press, said to Publishers Weekly in June 2022 that "selling more copies doesn't fix the intrinsic problem: people are trying to police what others read. We are against the banning of books, of any kind" and she added "that Oni supports schools, libraries, and organizations as best it can, but 'our main focus is being supportive of Maia and making sure we're doing the most we can to ensure Gender Queer is available to any and all people who want to read it". (Wikipedia)

  • 2020 American Library Association Alex Awards winner.
  • 2020 Stonewall Book Award for non-fiction.

All Boys Aren't Blue by

All Boys Aren't Blue has frequently been censored because it includes LGBTQIA+ content and profanity; it is also "considered to be sexually explicit." In 2021, the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom named it the third most banned and challenged book in the United States of the year. School boards in at least ten states have removed the book from their libraries. (ALA)

In Salina, Kansas, a school district faced a challenge to All Boys Aren’t Blue in a heated school board meeting in February 2022. The community members who brought the challenge to the school did not have students enrolled in the district. After following their review process, the district decided to keep Johnson’s book on the shelves at the school. (Intellectual Freedom Blog)

In Columbia, South Carolina, Richmond Public Library defended the novel in a June 2022 blog, writing:

"When critics say Johnson’s story is inappropriate for young adults, they are saying their childhood was inappropriate. Ignorance only empowers exploiters. There are numerous people who have been abused as young adults and told it was “what people do.” These people may have accepted the abuse because no one told them it was wrong or they deserve help. Many of these youths would be able to speak up if only they had a model for doing so." (Richmond Library)

  • 2019 Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Literature and Language Arts
  • 2020 Nominated for Goodreads Choice Award for Memoir & Autobiography
  • 2021 ALA's Rainbow List Top 10
  • 2021 YALSA's Teens'  Top 10

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