Your Freedom to Read Continues

Although the end of Banned Books Week is near (it runs through October 3), we still have time to tell you about three more books that were, according to Robert P. Doyle’s list, banned and/or challenged in 2008-2009.

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn: provides this summary of Zinn’s nontraditional textbook: “Consistently lauded for its lively, readable prose…A People’s History of the United States turns traditional textbook history on its head. Howard Zinn infuses the often-submerged voices of blacks, women, American Indians, war resisters, and poor laborers of all nationalities into this thorough narrative that spans American history from Christopher Columbus’s arrival to an afterword on the Clinton presidency.”

This book was challenged in a North Stafford, Va., high school after a teacher began using it in as a supplemental text in an advanced placement history class. Students also read an article that criticized this book. Although challenged on the basis that this book is “un-American, leftist propaganda,” this book was not banned.

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers:

According to, Fallen Angels is, “a coming of age tale for young adults set in the trenches of the Vietnam War in the late 1960s. Fallen Angels is the story of Perry, a Harlem teenager who volunteers for the service when his dream of attending college falls through. Sent to the front lines, Perry and his platoon come face-to-face with the Vietcong and the real horror of warfare. But violence and death aren’t the only hardships. As Perry struggles to find virtue in himself and his comrades, he questions why black troops are given the most dangerous assignments, and why the U.S. is there at all.”

After being placed on the accelerated reading list at North Carolina’s Chinquapin Elementary School, this book was challenged because of its expletives, racial slurs and slang terms for homosexuals.

Alice on Her Way by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor:

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Tina Zubak wrote this description of Alice on her Way for the School Library Journal: “This 16th book in the series (not counting the three prequels) is as frank and candid as its precursors. Alice, now almost 16, has a new boyfriend, goes to New York with her school, and participates in a program at her church. At first, she bristles when her dad signs her up for “Our Whole Lives,” but is won over by its open exploration of sex, commitment, and responsibility. Sam, attentive to a fault, tests Alice’s feelings about intimacy. Her relationship is contrasted with that of Faith, whose boyfriend is abusive, and Pam, who has oral sex with a boy she doesn’t know well and regrets her impulsiveness when they get back to school and he ignores her. Homosexuality and interracial dating are given brief and accepting mentions. Alice faces all challenges with her trademark mix of confusion and maturity. A subplot has her trying for her driver’s license–it takes her a while to get it, but as with many other of her achievements, she works hard until she succeeds. Alice’s fans will continue to enjoy this likable girl-next-door who wrestles with the pressures and pleasures of modern life and growing up.”

Leavenworth, Washington’s Icicle River Middle School Library hasn’t banned this book, however it is restricted to students who have parental consent. This restriction was put in place because of the book’s depiction of sexuality.

Although this is our final Banned Books Week blog, there’s still a few days left to celebrate your freedom to read. Don’t forget to check out the list of banned books on the ALA’s web site (go to, click on “Issues and Advocacy,” then click on “Banned and Challenged Books”), and to actually check some of these books out at Rohrbach. Also, don’t forget to head over to the KU Bookstore to learn about more banned books.



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