It’s banned book week! This week, September 22nd-28th, I’ll be sharing with you some banned book recommendations. If you don’t know what a banned book is, here’s a little definition: A banned book is one that has been removed from the shelves of a library, bookstore, or classroom because of its controversial content. I’ll be highlighting one book per day and telling you why they’re banned.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
“Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.”
This book surprised me whenever I found out it was first being challenged. Eventually, it was considered a banned book. In fact, it’s one of the top most banned books of 2018. I think it’s also important to note this book has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for weeks on end. As of right now, it’s on it’s 133rd week on the list. It’s spent most of that time at number one.
The impact of this book is also significant. This book talks openly about police brutality, racism, and the black lives matter movement. Angie Thomas even said that black lives matter movement is what inspired this book. It’s not hard to wonder why this book is banned but it is frustrating. This book is so important to have in schools and libraries yet it’s been banned for that exact reason.
Why is it banned?
“In late 2017, The Hate U Give was banned by school officials in Katy, Texas, where it was challenged for “inappropriate language.” District Superintendent Lance Hindt pulled the book from shelves during the review process in violation of the district’s own review policies, claiming he did so based on its “pervasive vulgarity and racially-insensitive language…not its substantive content or the viewpoint expressed.” The move drew widespread condemnation from free expression advocates, but the actions of a teen in the district helped save the day. Ny’Shira Lundy collected 4,000 signatures on a petition calling for the restoration of the book. The district relented and put it back on shelves, but it wasn’t a total victory. Students are required to get parental permission to check it out.” (source)
“This story is likely familiar for any librarian who has received a book challenge. It’s not even the first time that THUG has been challenged. What is surprising in this situation is the challenger. It’s not just a parent or local conservative group. The challenger here is the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in Charleston County, South Carolina. John Blackmon, the president of the FOP Tri-County Lodge #3, said they’ve received a number of complaints from parents and community members regarding the inclusion of these books on the summer reading list. He also states, “It’s almost an indoctrination of distrust of police and we’ve got to put a stop to that. There are other socio-economic topics that are available and they want to focus half of their effort on negativity towards the police? That seems odd to me.”” (source)