We never thought about whether a book was banned when we selected the books in the magical Schwarzman Family Library on our second floor. We just wanted to feature great literature that speaks to a diverse array of experiences and bring books to life for new audiences. And yet, 11 of the books on our shelves have been subject to book bans across the nation.
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
Fifty years ago, Madeleine L’Engle introduced the world to A Wrinkle in Time and the wonderful and unforgettable characters Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe. When the children learn that Mr. Murry has been captured by the Dark Thing, they embark on a journey through space and time, from galaxy to galaxy, to Camazotz, where they must face the leader IT in the ultimate battle between good and evil — a journey that threatens their lives and our universe.
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son — and readers — the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder.
Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world.
Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annex” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period.
Long Way Down, Jason Reynolds
Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Jason Reynolds’s Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence that takes place in sixty potent seconds — the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.
Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out — without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
Hilariously picaresque, epic in scope, alive with the poetry and vigor of the American people, Mark Twain’s story about a young boy and his journey down the Mississippi was the first great novel to speak in a truly American voice. Influencing generations of writers, “Huckleberry Finn,” like the river which flows through its pages, is one of the great sources which nourished and still nourishes the literature of America.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time follows an autistic teenager whose carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing. He decides that he will track down the real killer and turns to his favorite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents’ marriage.
The Lorax, Dr. Seuss
“Unless someone like you…cares a whole awful lot…nothing is going to get better…It’s not.” Long before saving the earth became a global concern, Dr. Seuss, speaking through his character the Lorax, warned against mindless progress and the danger it posed to the earth’s natural beauty.
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, To Kill a Mockingbird views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father — a crusading local lawyer — risks everything to defend a Black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.
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