Written by on September 17, 2012

Rainbow connection (episode 3)

This is episode 3 of 12.

In episode 3 “Rainbow Connection,” Kristen and I discuss books on ALA’s Top 100 Banned and Challenged Books of 2000-2009 that address homosexuality.  What surprised me the most about books with themes of homosexuality (besides reading about Alabama lawmaker Gerald Allen’s efforts to eliminate all gay authors and books that discuss homosexuality in a positive light from school curriculum. Yeah, that blew my mind.), was how few of the books on the list depict gay characters as healthy, confident role models.  Even fewer the ones that depict healthy, confident lesbians.    Literature is crucial to giving marginalize groups a voice in a society that would otherwise choose to ignore them.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the Rainbow Connection.  Leave your comments below.  And hen you’re done sharing your thoughts, check out Kennedy Library’s Banned Books Week hub.

–Michele Wyngard

Books we discuss:

  • And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell, #4 on the Top 100 Banned and Challenged Books of the last decade
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker, #17
  • King and King by Linda de Haan, #20
  • Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez, #48


Honorable mentions (also challenged for homosexuality):

  • Alice (series) by Phylis Reynolds Naylor, #2
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, #10
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, #6
  • It’s Perfectly Normal by Robbie Harris, #12
  • Forever by Judy Blume, #16
  • It’s So Amazing by Robbie Harris, #37
  • Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane, #39 (for me personally this is a stretch- Mathabane discusses child prostitution, essentially what amounts to the rape of boys by men.  I can’t stress enough- rape DOES NOT have any bearing on sexuality.  Rape is about power, not sex.)
  • Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher, #44
  • When Dad Killed Mom by Julius Lester, #56
  • Deal With It by Esther Drill, #82


To learn more about what we discussed, check out these websites:

Teach children critical thinking using And Tango Makes Three

The City of New York University The Color Purple study guide

Alex Sanchez Official Webpage http://www.alexsanchez.com/

News article on Alabama lawmaker Gerald Allen’s efforts to ban homosexual authors and literature

and these masterful monographs:

Doyle, R.P. (2010). Banned books: Challenging our freedom to read. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Foerstel, H.N. (2002). Banned in the U.S.A: A reference guide to book censorship in schools and public libraries. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Karolides, N.J. (2005). 120 banned books: Censorship histories of world literature. New York, NY: Checkmark Books/Facts on File.


and just for funsies, here’s Kerit the Frog singing our episode title.


This podcast series, I’m with the Banned features personal conversations between Michele and Kristen, a reflection of their year of reading and research. They, like the Kennedy Library, hope you are inspired to have your own conversations to explore ideas around these complex topics.

Read more on ALA, american library association, banned books, banned books week 2012, cal poly, freedom to read, i'm with the banned, kennedy library, and podcast.

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