Today, I want to just appreciate a bunch of books that have been banned at some point or other. I’ve read these books at various points in my life—some as a child, some as an adult—and each of them have had a profound effect on me.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
I guess I’ve always been the black sheep of my family. It bothered me, because I had no one I could relate to growing up. But this book helped me realize that I can celebrate my individuality, and that there is a whole world of people out there. I don’t need to change myself to fit in with who is around me. Instead, I can keep searching until I find others who understand me.
His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman
This trilogy enabled me to take a good, hard look at my own beliefs, religious and otherwise. My revelations are far too personal to share, but I can say that these books were a catalyst for a turning point in my life for the better.
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Growing up, I always felt I had to succumb to social conformity. That was perpetuated by the whole black sheep thing, but I also felt I was supposed to do what others said I should do. This book showed me that, not only is it okay to say no, I could find my own path. And, if I found the right one, I could make myself happy rather than worrying about making everyone around me happy.
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson
I read this book in seventh grade, and it was my first introduction to loss. I felt for the main character on a deep level. Years later, I lost a very good friend to a car accident. I didn’t know it at the time, but later on I realized that this book had already paved the way toward recovering from this kind of loss.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
Stubbornness runs in my family, and I can’t count how many times I heard “You’re too stubborn!” as I was growing up. It never occurred to me that stubbornness, which I always perceived as a weakness, could be used as an incredible strength. At least, not until I read this book. :) I was in grade school at the time, and this was a HUGE turning point for me.
And then there are a bunch of others that enabled me look at the world in a different light.
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
That Was Then, This Is Now by S.E. Hinton
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
I wouldn’t be where I am today without these books. They’ve helped shape and define me in so many good ways, and my life would be truly sad indeed if I’d never been exposed to them. I am very grateful that they came along when they did.