Still I Rise

During National Poetry Month last April, I wrote a poem and picture book that were partially inspired by Maya Angelou's Still I Rise.  And I think that her refraining words are apt for the celebration of Banned Books Week.  Yes, it was officially last week, but due to unforeseen circumstances (I was sick and also had migraines and other reasons), the blog has been silent for the longest time since it launched! 

Here's the thing about Banned Books Week--it's still needed to promote awareness and I love that the ALA sponsors it.  Even more, I love that my kids' school library always has lovely displays and messages about why certain books were banned. 

Many people may not realize it, but books are STILL being banned for various reasons like religion or "inappropriate" topics. 

Here are the most recent top ten books banned:

 Screen shot taken from ALA.org shows the most challenged books in 2016. 

Screen shot taken from ALA.org shows the most challenged books in 2016. 

This year it seems that most of the top ten books that were challenged had something to do with gender identity.  Sometimes they are challenged for other reasons, like offensive language in the number 10 book of 2016, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.  Coincidentally, this book happens to be one of my favorite YA books of all time.  And, no, I don't specifically remember bad language in it, though there may have been some.  What I remember instead is the the connection between the main characters, the lovely way Rowell captures the feeling of first love, the believable way she characterizes Park's mom and the way he feels being mixed Asian/White in a predominantly white community, set in the 80s.  And, of course, the fact that E & P bond over music, starting with The Smiths. 

Another much loved book that's been challenged for many years?  The Harry Potter series!  Yes, it shocks me too.  But, apparently some people believe that a fictional book about magic might go against their religious beliefs. 

 Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association,  ala.org/bbooks/NLW-Top10

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association, ala.org/bbooks/NLW-Top10

Now that I have a sixth grader, I'm re-reading an old copy of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume that I found at the library bookshop.  I'm also planning on finally, finally, FINALLY reading Harry Potter!  In fact, in honor of the illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban being released today, I'd like to announce that it will be the next book in our read-along! 

Yes, I know it's the third book.  But it encourages me to read the first two.  Being realistic, since I've lagged on posting about THUG (post coming later this week), I'm going to host the read-along of HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban (illustrated version) for the month of November.  That's right!  I'm going to be using the month of November to finish my YA novel, Standing Quiet in the Rain (working title), in hopes that I will be inspired by other writers participating in National Novel Writing Month. And I'll also be reading HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban for the first time.

I'll let you know what I think about this often-challenged, and much loved series. 

I know that this has been a tough few days with the tragedy/massacre in Las Vegas and my heart has been heavy.  But I want to keep talking about these other important topics too.  It doesn't escape my notice that our current read-along book, The Hate U Give, may very well be in the top ten of books challenged in 2017 because of its relevant though controversial topics.  And bad language.  And references to Harry Potter and Slytherin, and rap, and Jordans, or who knows what.   

But I believe that as long as we bibliophiles keep talking about these banned books, they will still rise and they will still be read.

And finally, in case you missed this breathtaking choreography by Sean Cheesman to the words of Maya Angelou's Still I Rise, please watch this video, a perfect mixture of different art forms and interpretations. I get goose bumps every single time I watch this performance. 

Tell Dr. Bookworm!

Which banned book will you read next?  Are you going to join us for the read-along of the illustrated HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban?  What do you think about the illustrations in the first two editions? Let us know in the comments. 

The Hate U Give Read-Along, Part 1

The Hate U Give Read-Along, Part 1

The Unicorn Doctor and Uni the Unicorn

The Unicorn Doctor and Uni the Unicorn