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Celebrate Your Freedom to Read: Banned Book Week

27 Sep

One of the things we love about the current state of young adult literature is that authors aren’t afraid to address difficult topics with their readers. Whether it is mental illness, sexual assault, police brutality, LGBT rights, or any of the other issues that young people are faced with, young adult authors have a deep respect for their readers’ abilities to navigate life’s challenges.

Because there have been so many wonderful young adult books over the past decade that have explored controversial issues, the genre still faces censorship challenges. While it may seem antiquated that anyone would try and ban a book in the United States in the year 2019, these challenges still occur all the time. For example, as children’s and young adult literature has become more inclusive of LGBT characters, there has been a relentless backlash faced against authors of these books.

While Amazon and the internet have created almost limitless opportunities for acquiring information, across the country books are still quietly removed the shelves of public and school libraries. When people ask if it Banned Books Week is still relevant, we need to remember that much of this “quiet” censorship of materials goes by unnoticed and has the greatest effect on children, people in poverty, and people from other marginalized communities who don’t have the resources to acquire information elsewhere.

As we celebrate Banned Books Week at the Hoboken Public Library, we reaffirm our commitment to providing our young adult readers with the choice to explore their passions without the fear they will be denied access to any of our titles. Below are just several of the titles we have on display this month in our teen room to promote the freedom to read without censorship.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
twoboyskissing
The book tells the story of two boys who attempt to break a Guinness World by kissing for 32-hours straight. In 2019, a petition circulated in Orange City, Iowa to have the book removed from the town’s public library. Leviathan has been on the cutting edge of introducing LGBT characters into young adult literature and his novels have faced frequent censorship because of it.

Shout and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
shout
Long before the #MeToo movement, Laurie Halse Anderson wrote a groundbreaking novel, Speak, for teens about the trauma of sexual assault. Twenty years later, she followed up her critically acclaimed novel, with Shout, a poetic memoir, about her own trauma as a survivor. While Anderson has been an unflinching voice for survivors of assault, her books have been the frequent target of censors for their frank discussions about sexual abuse.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie
diaryofaparttimeindian
Alexie’s book focuses on the story of Junior, a young Native American who wants to leave the reservation he was born on. He sees how life on the “rez” has resulted in addiction, early death, and lifelong poverty for many residents. When he is given the chance to go to a school outside the reservation, he becomes an enemy to many people back home who see him as disloyal to their struggles. The book has been challenged for profanity, violence, and alcoholism and frequently shows up on lists of the most banned books of all time.

Written by:
Karl Schwarz, Young Adult Librarian
and Elbie Love, Young Adult Library Assistant

Meet me at the Renaissance Faire: Books and More for Ren Faire Fans of all Ages!

25 Sep

Now that summer has come to an end, I am looking forward to the cooler autumn day and one of my favorite outings to do with family and friends-heading to the Renaissance Faire, where jousts are recreated, giant turkey legs are devoured, and many attendees enjoy participating in period garb.  For my fellow faire fans, I hope you enjoy your visits and check out some of the items available to our Hoboken patrons.

For Kids and Teens

All’s Faire in Middle School
by Victoria Jamieson
All's Faire in Middle School
Imogene is a homeschooled eleven year old whose parents work at a Renaissance Faire, who must now make the transition to a public middle school.  This graphic novel of a would-be knight-in-training battling the “dragons” of middle school is a good read for tweens looking to fight for their place in a frequently less than chivalrous world.

Great Medieval Projects You Can Build Yourself
by Kris Bordessa and Shawn Braley

Great Medieval Projects

Image from Hoopladigital.com

My son loves stories of knights and wizards. If your child too is enamored with fantasy or tales from the middle ages than they may enjoy Great Medieval Projects You Can Build Yourself which includes activities geared towards kids ages 9 to 12. Besides the fun hands on activities children are also provided with historically accurate information that will give them an understanding of the period that laid the foundation for the renaissance.

My Faire Lady
by Laura Wettersten
My Faire Lady
In My Faire Lady, Rowena gets a surprising summer job after her boyfriend cheats on her and she wants an excuse to get out of town.  New experiences and new romance blossom for her at the Ren Faire.

For Adults

American Princess

American Princess

Image from Hoopladigital.com

In American Princess, an Upper East Side “Princess” dream wedding is derailed when she catches her husband cheating on her.  In her escape from her wedding venue, she stumbles on a Renaissance Festival whose staff take her in and provide her with a job and a family while her ego and psyche heal.   I missed the show when it premiered at the beginning of the summer so was happy when I saw it available from Hoopla.  I found it delightfully funny.  The creator based it on her own experience working at a Renaissance Faire.  It is rated MA and has bawdy humor on occasion so is recommended only for adult viewers.

Hard Day’s Knight
by Katie MacAlister
Hard Day's Knight
Another fun romance choice available from Hoopla is the audiobook of Katie MacAlister’s Hard Day’s Knight read by Karen White, where Pepper Marsh is looking for her prince at Ontario’s Renaissance Faire.  Walker McPahil rescues her from being trampled, but can she break through the armor around his heart?  This title is also available in print and large print from BCCLS libraries.

Ren Faire Romance Series
by A.J. Marcus
Jouster's Lance
In Ren Faire Romance, a series from Dreamspinner Press (who specializes in LGBTQ fiction),  A.J. Marcus’s characters find the men of their dreams amongst the jousters, falconers, and archers at Renaissance Festivals.  Part one begins with the Jouster’s Lance.

Looking for great music to listen to on your way to a Renaissance Faire?  Check out my previous blog post.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

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