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Uncensored: Summer (Banned) Reading List

Add a banned book to your summer reading list & discover what you can do to fight censorship heading back to school

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School is out so before the party can begin we have to talk about censorship and the harm it's doing to authors.

Returning to school come September 2024 may start to look different as book bans continue to be on the rise. Authors who have worked hard to tell their stories and the stories of others are being removed from the shelves of libraries, and taken out of classrooms because they violate new state laws that ban them from being accessed.

That’s why here at DoSomething, young readers are taking the time to push back on censorship by joining Uncensored. Reading a banned book and then reflecting on how the story has shifted your perspective and the new characters you meet along the way. Members like Erica, 17, who said:

I will advocate for banned books and other culturally representative books at my school by speaking out against the school board when they attempt to ban books. I will write letters to my principal to encourage allowing students to read freely. Finally, I will read banned books and vocally advocate for them and their messages.”

Erica, 17

Uncensored

This Summer, we are asking you to add a banned book to your reading list. We’ve curated a list, pulled from Penguin Random House’s Banned Book database to show you all the stories young people across the U.S. will miss out on due to these state measures.

Whether you are enjoying the summer sun, jamming to Sabrina Carpenter's “Espresso” or Kendrick Lamar’s major diss track “Not Like Us” or avoiding the heat in a cool air-conditioned room, take some time during July and August to sit down and read a banned book and join Uncensored like Erica to share how you’d advocate against censorship. Plus, when you join you’ll be eligible to receive a $500 scholarship!!

READ BETWEEN THE LINES

“NO MORE BANNED BOOKS”

Found a banned book to add to your Summer reading list? Turn it all the way up by joining Uncensored and become eligible to receive a $500 scholarship.

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Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation (2018), by Ari Folman, Anne Frank & Illustrated by David Polonsky

This timeless piece has been renewed into a graphic novel, where a new generation can now experience the story of Anne Frank and her experience evading capture with her family during the Holocaust. Did you know Anne wrote more than one diary as well? Her voice continues to live on in stories that many may not have gotten a chance to read.

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Lily and Dunkin (2016) by Donna Gephart

This book will take you through the lives of two young people, Lily, a transgender girl, and Dunkin, a boy dealing with bipolar disorder. The pair navigate eighth grade, dealing with the growing pains of adolescence and as Dunkin struggles to fit in while moving into a new town, he holds onto a painful secret - if you want that tea, you’ll have to grab this book for a read.

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I'll Give You the Sun (2014) by Jandy Nelson

Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun is a Printz Award Winner and a Stonewall Honor Book. Are you and your sibling inseparable? Then you’ll relate to Jude and her twin brother Noah. Noah not only enjoys drawing but has a crush on the boy next door, while his more daunting sister Jude wears red lipstick and cliff-dives, and does most of the talking for both of them. Something happens between the pair because years later they rarely speak and as the story unfolds from each of their perspectives the reader has to follow them as they find their way back to one another. I’m not crying.

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The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story (2019) by Nikole Hannah-Jones, and The New York Times Magazine

Here’s a quick lesson. Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an academic framework that posits that racism is systemic as opposed to only individual acts of discrimination, and at the federal level in 2019, this has been the catalyst to remove books and lesson plans from schools.

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I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (2017) by Erika L. Sanchez

The book’s main character Julia must put her family back together after a tragic accident befell her sister Olga. As Julia mourns the death of her sister she also struggles to find out more about Olga’s life as she may not have been “the perfect Mexican daughter” her family thought she was. If you want to find out more about Olga’s story, and the secrets she kept from her family, add Sanchez’s book to your road trip or vacay!

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Fences (1985) by August Wilson

If you don’t know famed playwright August Wilson, you’re about to!

Wilson’s Fences is the Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a Tony Award for Best Play, and a Major Motion Picture directed by and starring Denzel Washington. It follows Troy Maxson, a father and husband who is struggling to survive as a Black man in America. As the 1950s are making way for a new spirit of liberation in the 1960s, Troy must find a way to deal with this new environment, as his wife and son understand it more than him. It’s a complex tale that has stood the test of time.

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