Notes from the Shire: Banned Books Week 2019

WHO: You!

WHAT: A Very Special Reading Party!

WHEN: Anytime!

WHERE: Anywhere!

WHY: To Read Banned and Challenged Books!


“How, Miss Jeanette, can I come to your party?” By going to the Northshire Manchester and Northshire Saratoga Bookstores or visiting our website at


Many authors, including such famous names as Patricia Polacco, Jeanette Winter, Gary Paulsen, Harvey Fierstein, Dav Pilkey, and of course, Judy Blume have seen their shares of challenged/banned works.  

Have you read: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie? If you have, fantastic, as this National Book Award winner was challenged/banned for: for sexual references, profanity, violence, gambling, underage drinking, and its religious viewpoint.

Did you know that books about friendships for ages 10 and up, are banned too? Drama is a graphic novel written by Raina Telgemeier. In Texas it was banned three years consecutively due to a portrayal of questioning and gay youth.  

Did you read Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss? If you lived in Toronto in 2014 you almost were unable to. A letter of complaint to a library said it “encourages children to use violence against their fathers”

I polled my coworkers what their favorite Banned/Challenged book(s) were or if they found a surprise book on a list of challenged/banned books. My surprise book has always been Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingles Wilder. Many have felt it was “stereotypical and reductive depictions of Native Americans and people of color.” (However, the original challenge said, “Indians”). I am a believer that Literature and History should not be taught in a bubble, but together. I was lucky to understand the historical background and know why her content was less than ideal. 

Amy of our Saratoga Springs, NY store sent me this (with their comments) list: Persepolis (love this book! (me too, Amy), Eleanor and Park (why would anyone ban this??) The Hate U Give (everyone should read, This One Summer (LGBTQIA content (also, due to the fact it was a Caldecott honor book and people assumed that meant it was for the under 7-year-old crowd when it is meant for aged 12 and up), The Glass Castle (just sad and beautiful), Beloved (SO GOOD), Fun Home (SO FANTASTIC), The Miseducation of Cameron Post (LGBTQIA content, again, so good. The movie wasn't half bad either!), Thirteen Reasons Why (I get the contention, but I read this book when I was about 13 and it was the first time, I had ever read something about suicide. People think that kids don't know what's going on, but they DO. So, it's important to talk about it.) 


Angela, also of Saratoga Springs, has a few classics: Lord of the Flies by William Golding; The Lorax by Dr. Seuss; James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (also on several people’s lists) along with Perks of Being a Wallflower by Chbosky, Lord of the Rings and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

Saratoga bookseller Kirstin was surprised to see Just Listen by Sarah Dessen was challenged/banned: “Dessen is a popular YA Fiction author and is one of my favorite authors. Just Listen does have some sensitive content that may explain why some schools would want to ban it from their library but it's just an important book for teenage girls!” 

Saratoga Springs bookseller Maeve who has some favorites that are not usually seen on the Top Ten Lists: Custer Died for Your Sins by Deloria, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Brown, Kazantzakis’s Greek Passion and Last Temptation of Christ. She continued her list with the Gospel of Mary Magdalene translated by Lelope, and Doctor Zhivago by Pasternak. Poetry is not immune to challenges, such as the poetry of Boris Pasternak. She said Sapho must be on the list and anything by John Donohue, as well as favorite authors Madeline Miller and Elisabeth Cunningham.

Dafydd, the Event Manager in Manchester Center, had a list was almost 30 titles long. Classic authors on the list included Lewis Carrol, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, Sinclair Lewis and Flannery O’Connor. Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach made another appearance. He also included Ernest Gaines’s A Lesson Before Dying, The Communist Manifesto, Thomas Mann with Death in Venice and Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil.



Sarah K. of Manchester Center has the best story about her experience with banned books: 

“The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger: I don’t think there was Banned Book Week when I was in high school. In 1962 I was a sophomore in high school. Our English teacher assigned a written monthly book report on a book of our choice not read in class. I selected Catcher in the Rye and dutifully handed in my book report.  We didn’t review books in those days. Mine came back with a note to speak to her after class which I did. 

“Why did I read this filthy book? (looked interesting.)

Where had I gotten it? (School Library).

What would my parents think of a daughter who read such filth? (My dad had read it too and we’d discussed it)

Your dad is a prominent local minister, you must be lying. (I wasn’t) 

You’ll need to spend time in detention. (I doubt it, you don’t know my dad.... I thought but didn’t verbalize this to her).

She called my dad who said he would come and meet with her and the principal the next day. He did and told her I didn’t usually lie (too feisty) and was allowed to read what I wanted and if she didn’t approve that was her problem since she had said a book of our choice.”


Jeanette is the Customer Order Specialist in the Northshire Bookstore located in Manchester Center, VT. Passions of hers include alligator wrestling, bull riding, reading books (big books, little books, picture books, no pictures books, even little black books), listening to music (from A to Z and back again) and a variety of other things.