Build Your Home Library with Banned Books

Growing up I loved reading.  Each week my mami took me to the local library in Borough Park, Brooklyn, and while she waited outside smoking her Virginia Slims I gathered all the books I was allowed to check out.

All the authors were white, most of the characters were white.  My reading world was filled with middle class and rich white kids totally different from my daughter of immigrants working class upbringing. 

It wasn't until high school that I read I Know How A Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, the first Black author I was introduced to.  I read the first work by a Latina author in college, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.  After that I made it a point to mostly read works by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) authors.

I was in love with Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia, finally there was a character like me, Pilar. I also related so much to the characters in We Came All the Way from Cuba so You Can Dress Like This? by Achy Obejas.  

When I became a mother I wanted my kids' bookshelves to be filled with beautiful, representative books.  We acquired books in Spanish, books from their father's childhood library, and ones we collected around town from Little Free Libraries.  When they had me read one of their father's Babar books, at ages 3 and 5 we went through the book and talked about the racist imagery.  We didn't read the book again but we talked about the issues in the book.  I needed to teach them how to detect racist, classist, sexist, and all derogatory imagery and language in books, because one day they would be reading on their own.

When lists started to pop up of banned books in school districts across the country, I was very upset that most of the authors were BIPOC and or LGBTQ.  Some of the books I had so proudly selected for Booklandia Boxes.  Why were the books that children in my community really needed were being banned?  Were they even read by the creators of this list?

The author Meg Medina wrote an article in Parents Magazine on this very issue.  It inspired me to make a book list on our Bookshop page of Banned Books by Latina/Latino/Latinx Authors and/or Illustrators. 

I hope you look at this list and find that you have some of these books in your own personal library.  If not, here's your chance to purchase some.  Make it a point to gift banned books for birthday presents.  Fill your own library with them and talk to the young people in your lives about the importance of these books.


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