This week, in honor of Banned Books Week, we’re sharing some of our favorite banned or challenged children’s and young adult books. Check back every day for a new favorite! Want to share some of your favorites? Check out these lists and share in the comments!
Jerry Spinelli’s novel Stargirl introduces a beautiful character that, as a kid, would have terrified me for one simple reason: she is completely herself. She doesn’t care to try and blend in. And yet, I adore this character. Why? Because Stargirl draws out a part of me that I was too afraid to explore on my own as a kid. That is what great characters do. They push us to reflect on ourselves and the world around us. While some people have taken issue with the age of the book’s characters versus the
intended audience, the strong messages on bullying, non-conformity, and peer pressure are spot on for 5th grade and up.
Stargirl completely defies the social norms most highschoolers live by. She marches to the beat of her own drum and is confident in who she is. She has the whole school talking about her crazy stunts before the end of the first day. I mean, come on. Who wouldn’t notice the girl playing a ukulele and carrying around a pet rat? Not to mention the girl who is willing to be friends with the socially undesirable at school? These very acts of confidence and defiance of the social norms are exactly what skyrockets her popularity at school with everyone wanting to know more about her. Leo, who narrates this story, is more comfortable keeping his inner drum quiet, yet he is mesmerized by Stargirl. He has never met anyone like her before. She is fearless of the social backlash that keeps the pecking order at school in place. As they spend more time together, Leo quickly falls for her. Suddenly, however, Stargirl goes from the it girl to the outcast for the same reasons she became so popular in the first place. Leo wants desperately to save her from being a total outcast and suggests she try being more normal. Stargirl tries, for Leo’s sake, to blend in. In the end, however, she is not destined to be anything but her own brand of normal with the novel ending on a note that stays true to the characters’ individual personalities.