Your Must-Have Kids’ Book List: Part II

I once had my finger on the pulse of adult contemporary literature. But, alas, those days are behind me. Why? It’s simple: I read approximately six hundred times more children’s books than I do adult books. Sadly (and shockingly), this is not an exaggeration. My daughter completed the “1000 Books Before Kindergarten” challenge at our local library in about three months. And I read an adult book and a half in that time. Yipes.

It appears that my area of expertise has shifted a bit. Last year, at the request of a friend, I posted a list of kids’ books that I love (if you missed it, here is “Your Must-Have Kids’ Book List”). And, since writing that list, I’ve come across many new and wonderful books to share with you! This sequel to the original list is in two parts: 1) books that have been published since I wrote the last list, and 2) my daughter’s current favorites. Enjoy!


Board books:

These little gems feature lovely photographs of fruits and veggies in every color of the rainbow (I guarantee you’ll see a fruit or vegetable you’ve never seen before!). They are great primers and a good way to get kids excited about eating their nutritious foods.



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Five Great Ways to Celebrate Banned Books Week

Yesterday marked the beginning of Banned Books Week, an annual event that celebrates the freedom to read. Banned Books Week is sponsored by a number of organizations, including the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of American Publishers, and the American Booksellers Association and seeks to bring together all book lovers (teachers, librarians, book sellers, readers, and writers) “in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”


Each year, to raise awareness about censorship, the ALA compiles a list of books that have been banned or challenged during the past year, as published in their Newsletter on Intellectual FreedomThis year’s list contains nearly thirty books. In addition to some newer YA books like Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park (challenged for “its use of profanity and its treatment of sexuality”) there are also some important classics like Alice Walker’s Pulitzer-Prize winning The Color Purple (used in an 11th-grade AP English class and challenged for “language and sexuality or ‘obscenity,’” as well as whether the book “that deals with issues of racism, violence against women, and rape, has literary value that was age appropriate for the students.”). All of the books on the list “represent requests to remove materials from schools or libraries, thus restricting access to them by others.”

Why is the list important? Continue reading

Why The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Is So Controversial (and Why You Should Read It Anyway)

parttimeindianThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
By Sherman Alexie
Art by Ellen Forney
© 2007

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian won the National Book Award in 2007.   But I didn’t hear about it then.  Before this past summer, I’d never heard of it.  I first read about it in this article on The Atlantic Wire.  It made the news in August, because the book, once required summer reading for incoming sixth graders, had been banned by a New York public school.

Fox News’s fair-and-balanced headline read: “Complaints reportedly force NYC school to remove book on masturbation from summer reading list.”  According to New York Daily News, which first reported the story, the mother who complained about the book said, “It was like ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ for kids.”

I used to be a public-school teacher.  And I can tell you from first-hand experience that a “book on masturbation” would never make the cut for a public school’s required summer-reading list.   So, I was curious.  And skeptical.  I decided to do a little more research.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is no stranger to controversy or to  being banned in schools (for a detailed description of some of the bannings and the purported reasons therefor, click here).  Since 2010, it has been on the American Library Association’s list of the ten most frequently challenged books every year.  Last year, it was the #2 most banned and challenged book.  Why?  “Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group.” Continue reading