Written by on September 13, 2012

I Against I (episode 9)

This episode 9 of 12.

In Episode 9 “I Against I,” Kristen and I discuss books on ALA’s Top 100 Banned and Challenged Books of 2000-2009 that have been challenged for racism, specifically racist language and/or negative stereotypes of race.  It hurts to read some of these books- the problem of racism is so base and ingrained, that it feels insurmountable.  But each and every one of these books is important: they show us the history of our country, they allow us to experience a situation from another perspective, and they provide a starting point for dialogue.  It would hurt us even more if these books were no longer available.

For everything else Banned Books Week at the Kennedy Library, check out our Banned Books Week hub.
–Michele Wyngard

Books we discuss:

  • Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor, #66 on the Top 100 Banned and Challenged Books of the last decade
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, #21
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, #14
  • Black Boy by Richard Wright, #81

Honorable mentions (a.k.a. books that fit this category but we didn’t have time to discuss):

  •  Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, #5
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, #6
  • Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, #19
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison, #26
  • Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, #33
  • Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher, #44
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, #46
  • Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Green, #55
  • The Terrorist by Caroline B. Cooney, #63
  • Always Runny by Luis Rodriguez, #68
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, #72
  • Friday Night Lights by HG Bissenger, #89


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

Mildred D. Taylor’s publisher web page

Harper Lee’s official web page

Mark Twain has an official web site?!  Yep, courtesy of the Estate of Mark Twain.

The collection of Richard Wright’s personal papers and writings are held by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.  And here’s a documentary about Richard Wright.

and these revelatory readings:

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.


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, harper lee, huckleberry finn, i'm with the banned, kennedy library, mark twain, mildred taylor, podcast, racism, richard wright, roll of thunder hear my cry, and to kill a mockingbird.

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