Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
-As with all of the Harry Potter series this book is action packed and full of fun and fantasy. I understand that some parents do not approve of books with magic or wizardry in the plot and that is, of course, their decision; however, I feel like these books are a wonderful way for students to get hooked on the fun of reading. Harry Potter has drawn many students and adults into reading and made reading "cool." I will be marking the release of the final movie this November. I only wish I had been a librarian during the release of the books. What a great way to promote reading.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson
-This picture book tells the story of two male penguins that pair up in a New York zoo and raise an abanoned egg. The book is challenged because of the references to same sex couples. I don't know that really young children would dwell on that part of the story, but instead see that the book celebrates all kinds of families. Let's face it some of our students live in homes with same sex parents and would be happy to see a family like theirs in a book.
TTYL by Lauren Myracle
-I was intrigued by the concept of this book because it is written entirely in the form of text messages. Texting is the most popular way to communicate among tweens and teens so I think this book will appeal to a lot of students. There were many instances of adult language. I liked the story of the teen friendships and the drama that is often a part of those friendship; however, I think the language would prevent me from ordering this book for my middle school students. I would recommend it for some of the more mature students at school.
Gossip Girls: Nobody Does it Better by Cecily Von Zieger
-I have seen the show on TV for this series and was happy to finally have an excuse for reading one of the books. After reading this book I understand the appeal of the series. It is full of drama, fashion, love, and frienship. The wealthy characters live in a world that is a complete fantasy for most teenagers. I would compare this series to adult fashion dramas like Sex and the City and magazines like In Style or Vogue. Again, the language and mature romantic scenes make it too graphic for my middle schoolers, but I would recommend it for older girls that love fashion and clothes.
August House Book of Scary Stories edited by Liz Parkhurst
-I had so many scary stories to choose from on the challenge list, but I had not read this one before so I picked this one up. There were several fun, spooky tales inside that would be great for a Halloween read aloud. One of my favorite all-time scary stories was included on page 67. I will definitely be referring back to this book next month for Halloween read alouds. I recommend this book for all ages because none of them were very graphic and they were more creepy than terrifying.
Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
-This book was an excellent example of the creepy tales that Lois Duncan creates. She was one of my favorite authors in middle school and I was happy to read another of her books. I think every student can identify with the characters in their hatred for one of their teachers. Even though the plot sounds horrible if a parent is challenging this book, I like how the teacher's true character is revealed later in the story and the teen characters find out that the real villain is a unexpected one. Great twist at the end.
The Earth, My Butt and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
-This was my favorite read from my choices for Banned Books Week. This book has a main character that most girls, regardless of size, can relate to. She has a difficult time fitting in with her family and finding her place in the cliques at school. There was a heavy petting scene, references to sex and some graphic language, but the overall story is one that most parents should encourage, "Stay true to yourself and love who you are." I have this book in my middle school collection and after reading it I must admit I was a little nervous about it. I want to keep it for our older readers and I hope that my younger students will wait on this one until they are older.
I hope that my programs at school for Banned Books Week will make students think about the importance of protecting our freedom to read. One of the most commonly challenged books "Scary Stories" is our number one book thanks to my booktalks and students that love creepy tales. Even though all of my reads were not good choices for middle schoolers I know that celebrating Banned Books Week is a valuable program.