Thanks to ALA, we’re focusing on books with diverse content and books with diverse authors this Banned Books Week, so we thought a blog post full of young adult books would be in order. There are lots of young adult books for us to choose today, so if we skipped your favorite, you may see it later this week or even way down at the bottom of this post in our extra bonus Banned Books reads.

miseducation-of-cameron-postMiseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth is a young adult novel that was released in 2014. This book centers around the life of Cameron Post. Cam’s parents die suddenly in a car crash and she finds herself feeling relief. With them both gone, neither of them will know that she had been kissing a girl just hours before they died.

After their death, Cam has to move in with her aunt and grandmother. Her aunt is conservative and her grandmother is immensely old-fashioned. She is living in Miles City, Montana, a town where she has to hide who she really is from everyone around her. This conservative ranch town is hard for Cam to adjust to, so she tries to blend in and bury her feelings.

Coley Taylor moves to town then and Cam’s life changes. Coley is a perfect cowgirl, beautiful, and driving a pickup. She also has the perfect boyfriend. Coley and Cam become super close and Cam finds herself seeing that something more may happen. Right when this seems actually possible, her ultrareligious Aunt Ruth sends her to a religious camp to be ‘cured’.

fallen-angelsFallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers was number 26 on the list of most frequently challenged books written by authors of color from 1990-1999 and is currently number 11 of the top 100 Banned/Challenged books: 200-2009 list. This book is frequently banned for reasons of racism, offensive language, and violence. Myers also won the 1988 Coretta Scott King Award for this book.

Fallen Angels tells the story of Richie Perry, a seventeen-year-old student who has just left his Harlem high school. He has decided to enlist in the Army in the summer of 1967 after his college plans fall through. As a result, Richie spends a year on active duty in Vietnam, something that changes his life forever. He has illusions about what he will face over there and doesn’t believe that he will be sent overseas because of his knee injury.

Richie finds himself face-to-face with the horrors of warfare and the Vietcong they are fighting every day. He struggles with all the violence and death around him, but those are not the only thing haunting him and his comrades. They are told they will encounter light, easy work, something that proves to be untrue when one of the first new recruits he meets is killed during his squad’s first patrol. He is deeply shaken and the increasing levels of destruction and brutality he witnesses leave him questioning the morality of war and the virtues of the people around him. Richie also finds himself questioning why the black troops are given the most dangerous assignments and why the U.S. has even involved themselves in this war.

Walter Dean Myers also has several other books that are banned because of diverse content: Monster, Hoops, and Scorpions.

will-grayson-will-graysonWill Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan has been banned/challenged multiple times for its content. Levithan also has multiple other books that have been challenged for the same reasons. This book deals with homosexuality and relationships.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson tells the story of two different Will Graysons: one gay and one straight. Will Grayson meets Will Grayson, one cold night on a very unlikely street corner in Chicago. This chance meeting changes both of their lives, and the lives of their friends, forever. Will Grayson and Will Grayson find their worlds meshed together, collided and intertwined. One straight Will Grayson and the other gay Will Grayson are both dealing with romantic relationships, complicated friendships, and friends that think they know what is best for them.

David Levithan has more books banned/challenged for diverse content: Two Boys Kissing, Boy Meets Boy, Hold Me Closer, and Full Spectrum.

Here are a list of other young adult books that are frequently banned or challenged that are either by diverse authors or have diverse content! Click on the title for more information. There are many, many other young adult books that have been banned, but we just don’t have the room in this blog post to share them all. For more information, contact us!

(Here’s a list of frequently challenged young adult books to help you get started! )


Banned Books Week is an annual event sponsored by the American Library Association; it’s purpose is to celebrate the freedom to read. At the Davenport Public Library, we’ve got displays up at our three locations showing some of the many books that have been challenged, banned or restricted over the years.  You might be surprised to find some of your favorite titles on the list!  Here are a few of my favorites that someone, at sometime, deemed inappropriate:

Come check out our display and accompanying brochure with titles of even more banned books.  Maybe this would be the perfect time to read one!

billofrightsThe Library Bill of Rights:

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Adopted June 18, 1948, by the ALA Council; amended February 2, 1961; amended June 28, 1967; amended January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 24, 1996.

Did you know?

The Library Bill of Rights states the American Library Association’s policy on Intellectual Freedom and is based on a policy written by Forrest Spaulding, Director of the Des Moines Public Library, put into effect in his own library on November 21, 1938.  The ALA Council then modified the statement and adopted it as The Library Bill of Rights during the 1939 Annual Conference and has since been amended on multiple occasions as libraries continue to evolve with society and technology.

American Library Association, Office for Intellectual Freedom. Intellectual freedom manual. ALA Editions, 2006. accessed via Google Books.

The Singing RevolutionEstonia is a tiny nation squeezed between the Baltic Sea and the former Soviet Union. For centuries they have been subject to occupation and used as a pawn by larger, more powerful nations. In 1920 they achieved independence and were thriving only to fall victim again to dictators – in 1939 Hitler and Stalin signed a secret agreement that divided Europe between them. Shortly thereafter, Stalin invaded Estonia and brutally suppressed resistance.

This invasion was followed by more than 50 years of oppression, first by Stalin, then Hitler, then Stalin again. Thousands of Estonians were killed or shipped to Siberia to work in the labor camps. The Estonian language was outlawed, thousands of Russians were moved to Estonia (called “russification”) to further dilute the native population and any hint of free thinking was swiftly and severely punished.

However, the Estonians refused to give up their culture or their national identity. One way was through singing – this tiny nation has one of the largest collections of folk songs in the world and singing clubs are very popular. A national song festival – “Laulupidu” – has been held every five years since 1894. The Soviets allowed this festival to continue, but required the singing of Soviet communist songs, sung in Russian. On one occasion the Estonians outsmarted their oppressors and spontaneously began singing traditional folk songs in Estonian. The band was ordered to play louder to drown out the singing, but massed voices were too loud.

As Soviet Russia began to crumble, Estonia pushed for more freedoms and independence. Throughout their struggle, singing became a uniting force, bringing people together countless times. The Estonian revolution remained bloodless and, when the USSR finally collapsed, Estonia emerged as an intact nation, united by their suffering but also by their joyous singing.

The Singing Revolution will leave you with a lump in your throat and goosebumps on your skin. It’s hard to believe that singing can stop tanks, but the Estonians did it again and again. The beautiful, lovingly produced documentary will remind you again of both the price of freedom and why it’s so precious.

Intellectual FreedomIt often surprises people that they can call (or email or IM) our reference desk and ask us virtually anything and we will do our utmost to find an answer.

Callers may be looking for facts or articles to support  liberal, conservative or libertarian points-of-view. They may want information about extraterrestrial life, Elvis Presley’s current whereabouts or the latest bills on gun control. We apply the same skills and methodology no matter what the topic.

The next time the tv or newspaper prompts a question in your mind, give us a call!

Okay, so I like to think I would defend our intellectual freedoms under desperate circumstances, but what if I was mysteriously kidnapped and dropped into an Utopian community? Yes, I lose my name and I cannot leave the city limits or this weird orb-like creature will eat me, but everyone is so happy and intelligent and beautiful.  All I have to do is stop asking questions and I could be content like them. And they have parades, like, everyday.

prisonerThis is the basic plot of The Prisoner–a 1960’s cult British program starring Patrick McGoohan. McGoohan plays an ex-British Government employee who wakes up to find himself in “The Village” with everyone calling him number Six. Unlike me, Six is not charmed by the pretty landscaping and golf cart rides; he spends all 17 episodes in a constant mind-battle with number Two while alternately trying to escape and find out who is number One. Just writing this blogpost, my brain has gone into overdrive remembering the mental exercise I received from watching this show: What freedoms do I have? What freedoms do I not have? What freedoms would I not realize were gone? What freedoms would I allow to be taken in order to be happy? Would I know the difference between freedom and the illusion of freedom? Ack! Thought-provoking television!

You’ve got several options on experiencing the Prisoner:

Be seeing you!

freedomSince 2004, libraries across the world have organized events about freedom and issues that matter to their communities during the month of September. This grassroots project favors free over fee, public over private, and voices over silence. This year, the Davenport Public Library is posting blogs relating to freedom and democracy, as well as hosting displays about these topics. For more information about the September Project, visit

One way libraries and librarians protect your freedom that you probably aren’t even aware of, is Collection Development. That’s a fancy librarian term for what we do every day – buy books (and movies and magazines and audio materials, etc ) But there’s something serious here too – the reference librarians work hard – including going to school and getting a Master’s Degree – to make sure that our collection is balanced and that it, within publishing and money constraints, has something for everyone.

Let’s say you’re an ardent vegetarian. Great! We have books on cooking for the vegetarian and the vegan, books on how to grow your own vegetables and books on the health benefits of this lifestyle. But we also have books about cooking meat and books about baking with sugar and butter. We have books that will appeal to various political parties and religious beliefs, books that cover nearly every opinion and belief with no favoritism for one or another.

Just one of the services your public library provides – upholding the ideals of the Constitution of the United States.