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The Canary

Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2019: #2 & #1 (Part 5 of 5)

by Sarah Obenauf on 2020-10-02T09:00:00-06:00 | Comments

Beyond Magenta (LGBTQIA+ content, sexually explicit)

Beyond Magenta was published in 2014 by author and photographer Susan Kuklin, in which she interviews six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and uses her “considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgement of gender preference” (Goodreads). In addition, “portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken. Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves” (Goodreads).

Beyond Magenta was the second most challenged book in 2019, and reached the #4 spot in 2015, for reasons ranging from inappropriateness for intended age group, political and religious viewpoints, anti-family themes, concerns that it was sexually explicit and biases, and “its effect on any young people who would read it” (ALA).*

*which, in this writer's humble opinion, is exactly the point of the book

George (LGBTQIA+ content, religious viewpoint, sexual references)

Written by genderqueer children’s book author Alex GinoGeorge is a middle-school novel about Melissa, a girl in the fourth grade who is struggling with her identity and getting those around her to recognize who she really is. The outside world knows her as George, a boy in the fourth grade. Using the play Charlotte’s Web as a backdrop, and with help from her best friend, Kelly, Melissa shows everyone her truth: “a transgender girl who is, to use Charlotte’s word, R-A-D-I-A-N-T!” (Alex Gino). 

George has claimed the #1 spot in the ALA’s Top 10 Challenged Books list both in 2019 and 2018. Previously, it held the #5 and #3 spots in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

The main reason? You guessed it: this novel has been challenged because it features a transgender character. Other reasons include the belief that “schools and libraries should not ‘put books in a child’s hand that require discussion,’” encourages children to “clear browser history and change their bodies using hormones,” and for mentioning “dirty magazines” (ALA).

Listen to the author give some background on the novel, why they chose to write it, and read a brief excerpt.

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