Banned Books Week: ttyl by Lauren Myracle

ttyl by Lauren MyracleFor those of you who didn’t know, last week was Banned Books Week! In honor of Banned Books Week, I decided to read ttyl by Lauren Myracle, which has appeared on the top ten most challenged books list four times in the past decade.

ttyl is a book written entirely in Instant Messages. I was a little bit apprehensive about reading it because of this, and I figured that it wouldn’t be possible to develop much of a connection to characters when they are only able to speak through IMs. I was pleasantly surprised at how well Lauren Myracle was able to develop her characters throughout the book, even though the readers is only reading their IM conversations.

While the writing is somewhat superficial, mainly because of the format of the book, Myracle is still able to tell a great story. ttyl follows three girls in high school and deals with a lot of issues that teens face. The three friends struggle to maintain their friendship as high school pushes them each in different directions. I definitely connected with this book because it reminded me of my days in high school, racing home to IM my friends about everything that had happened that day.

According to www.ala.org, ttyl has been on the frequently challenged book list due to drugs, nudity, being sexually explicit, offensive language, and being unsuited to the age group. What many people don’t realize is that many of these things occur in high schools today and this book is just an accurate depiction of being a teenager in America. I liked how real and truthful this story is. Myracle doesn’t try to sugarcoat anything, and that makes the story much more believable and makes it easier to relate to.

Overall, ttyl was a fun read that brought me back to my own days in high school. I really enjoyed this, even though the format was something different, and I’m glad I gave it a chance.

ttyl was released on April 1st, 2004 and is the first book in the Internet Girls series.

For more information on Banned Books Week, or challenged books in general, you can check out these sites:

http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned

http://bannedbooksweek.org/

What banned books have you read over the years? Has anyone ever tried to ban a book in your school/community?

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Banned Books Week: The Giver by Lois Lowry

For those of you who weren’t aware, last week was the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week! Banned Books Week is held each year to bring awareness to the detrimental effects of censoring literature. In honor of Banned Books Week, I decided to read The Giver by Lois Lowry, which was one of the most frequently challenged books of the 21st century.

The Giver is a dystopian novel about a boy named Jonas who lives in a very controlled community. In his community there are no choices: a person is assigned a job, spouse, living space, and even children. Since he has gone his entire life knowing only this type of world, he believes, like the rest of his community, that choices are dangerous and the reason everything is so controlled is simply to keep them safe. When Jonas turns twelve years old, he is selected to be the new Receiver, meaning he will hold all of the memories of the past. When he meets with The Giver and starts Receiving memories, he experiences not only pleasure and happiness, but pain as well. But what he really receives is the truth, which makes him question the life he’s always known.

The Giver is a really beautiful story and really emphasizes the importance of being an individual. It teaches us that being different is a good thing. It also teaches the importance and value of choice. Jonas lives in a community where everything is decided for him. He was raised to believe that being different is dangerous and that the leaders of the community know what is best for him. Once he begins Receiving memories however, this begins to change and he realizes that there is so much more to the world than he originally thought. The fact that The Giver has frequently been on the banned books list over the years is really sad, because a book that encourages individuality should be on the required list in all middle/high schools. Kids at that age are under the constant pressure to fit in and dress or behave a certain way, and a book like The Giver could help them realize that individuality and being different is not necessarily a bad thing.

The Giver was published in 1993 and won the Newbery Medal in 1994. It is the first book in The Giver Quartet, which consists of The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger, and the final book, Son,  which was just published on October 2, 2012.

For more information on Banned Books Week, or book banning in general, you can check out these sites:

http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned

http://bannedbooksweek.org/

What banned books have you read over the years? Has anyone ever tried to ban a book in your school/community?