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Banned Book Week Spotlight: The Harry Potter Series

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Hogwarts Coat of Arms

Hogwarts Coat of Arms Source: Wikimedia Commons

It’s one of my favorite literary times of year again: Banned Book Week! From September 22 to the 28th, people are celebrating the freedom to read classic books and current books. This year, I’m going to spotlight The Harry Potter series.

I was in fourth grade when I first heard about the series. A kid brought in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to class and my teacher read some of it aloud. The story had me intrigued and I remember getting my mom to buy it for me. The only problem was, I hadn’t realized I was reading the series out-of-order until I looked on the spine. Oops!

Anyway, I think I either somehow read the entire book with no clue what was going on or I managed to get the first three books and read them first. I can’t remember which happened, but either way I eventually understood the plot and became a fan of the books.

When I was in elementary school, I liked the books because I was in awe of Harry’s world.  There was magic, creatures, and places I couldn’t have dreamed of before reading the series. I found it really cool.

By the time Harry Potter and The Order Phoenix came out, I found that book becoming my favorite in the series, I could relate to Harry’s angst and the way he wondered about what kind of person he was. Another thing I liked were the weird characters and creatures that were introduced: thestrals, Luna Lovegood, Nymphadora Tonks, and Grawp.

I had also realized I could relate to Hermione the most. Like her, I was “an insufferable know-it-all” who read a lot and got bullied for it.  Unlike Hermione though, I specialized with being a know-it-all” in a particular subject: literature. Also, I was pretty lonely and there were plenty of times I wished Hermione actually existed.

The biggest impact this series has had on me was introducing me to fantasy-fiction, mythology, and folklore. Without this series, I would have never read the Percy Jackson series, the Song of the Lioness quartet, or any Dragonlance books.  I am eternally grateful for this series giving me a strong love for fantasy-fiction.

Thank you so much J.K. Rowling for giving me one of the best things about my childhood. These books will always be in my heart.

Written by Serena Zola

September 20, 2013 at 11:11 PM

Banned Book Week Spotlight: The Outsiders

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This was the cover I saw when I read the book for the first time in 7th grade

Since next week is  Banned Book Week, I decided to post about a book that is not only one of my favorite banned books, but my favorite teen fiction book as well. The book is about two rival gangs, The Greasers and The Socs (short for Socials) and the story is told from the point of view of  a 14-year-old Greaser named Ponyboy Curtis. First published in 1967, the book is considered a classic coming-of-age story.

According to the American Library Association site, The Outsiders was number thirty-eight on the 100 most frequently banned books from 1990-1999 because it features violence, underage smoking and drinking, and profanity.  Since then, the book has rarely met resistance because it has been incorporated into middle school and high school curriculums.

I read The Outsiders for the first time when I was in seventh grade, listening to an audio book and following along in a school copy of the book. I remember when my teacher told us what we were going to be reading, somebody thought it would be about aliens.

When we first started reading it, I remember connecting to Ponyboy as soon as I heard the words, “And nobody in our gang digs books and movies the way I do. For a while, I thought I was the only person in the world that did.” Those words described how I was starting to feel in middle school.  That feeling would really start to sting once I started high school.

The Outsiders became one of those books I turned to for comfort, to know that I wasn’t alone. During my junior year of high school, the book would be significant for two other special reasons. The first reason had to do with a reality check. The second reason had to do with what came from it.

At the time, I was going through my second year of bullying.  I hated my bullies so much, I didn’t even consider them human. One day though, I saw with my own eyes one of the lessons from The Outsiders: Things are rough all over. It turned out that my bullies were just as insecure as I was… that they were just as human as I was. With this realization came resolve, inspiration, and the beginning of a dream.

Like Ponyboy, I wanted to tell my side of how it felt to be an outsider, to tell how far people will go to make that pain go away. And so, I decided to become a teen fiction author and someday write a book that will have the same impact The Outsiders had on me. Today, whenever I get a writer’s block or I feel frustrated about writing, I reread The Outsiders and remember why I want to write in the first place.

Here are some more facts about The Outsiders that I find cool:

1. The author, S.E. Hinton, first started The Outsiders when she was 15 (info taken from the Speak edition of the book)

2. The book was made into a movie in 1983 after a school class sent the movie director (Francis Ford Coppola) a letter saying they wanted the book to be made into a movie by him (info taken from IMDB)

Written by Serena Zola

September 28, 2012 at 8:14 PM

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