At 826, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to collaborate and work with amazing writers – many whose works have been banned and challenged. To honor and celebrate these writers and their stories, we’ve selected a few of them in our 2022 Banned Books Reading List.
The books below prominently feature protagonists of color and exposes the sometimes unbearable weight of adolescence. These stories do not shy away from painful moments, but instead embrace them and provide readers comfort. They celebrate life and all of its complex emotions – fear, hope, courage, sadness, joy, and anger.
Fight against book bans by reading a banned book. Then, share it with your friends, your family, your community – and the entire world.
All American Boys by Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds
When sixteen-year-old Rashad Butler goes to a bodega for a bag of chips, a police officer mistakes him for a shoplifter. Officer Paul Galluzzo refuses to listen to Rashad and ends up using his fist to “enforce the law.” Quinn Collins, a White boy and Rashad’s classmate, sees it happen live. The attack is caught on camera, and Paul is thrust into the spotlight as a symbol of police brutality. Tensions rise and divide the community as each boy faces the repercussions of the attack. The story interchanges between the two boys, with Jason writing Rashad’s voice and Brendan writing for Quinn.
Heavy by Kiese Laymon
In this personal narrative, Kiese Laymon delves into growing up as a Black boy in Jackson, Mississippi. He fearlessly explores his difficult relationships with his family, food, sex, writing, and gambling. Heavey demands us to explore our nation’s progress and the way we love as a society and as an individual. Heavy is incredibly heavy – but it is worth the read.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
In Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson relives her childhood as a Black girl living in South Carolina and New York during the 1960s and 1970s. Told in verse, Jacqueline takes us on a journey through the Civil Rights Movement as she discovers her voice. Brown Girl Dreaming is a celebration of the joy of writing and the freedom it provides.
The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini
Since 2003, Kite Runner has mesmerized readers with the unforgettable story of Amir, a young boy growing up in Afghanistan with his father, Baba, and his servant, Hassan. As Amir grows up during an unstable time in Afghanistan’s political system, he faces challenges and hard decisions that follow him to adulthood. This story of relationships shows readers how the people in our lives shape us into the people we become.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Fifteen-year-old Xiomara Batista is a Dominican teenager living in Harlem, where she feels overshadowed by her brother and misunderstood by her religious mother. But when Xo writes poetry, she knows exactly who she is and what she’s capable of. Behind her mother’s back, Xo explores the world of slam poetry and develops a romance with her lab partner. Fierce and powerful, The Poet X challenges readers to be loud and heard.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
When sixteen-year-old Starr Carter and her best friend, Khalil, head home from a party, they’re pulled over by a police officer. When the officer assumes Khalil is armed, the officer shoots an unarmed Khalil three times. His murder becomes a national news story, but Starr’s identity as a witness is kept hidden from her mostly Black community and at her predominantely white private school. But when Khalil’s past is questioned and Starr’s two worlds collide, Starr is force to make a choice that could change her life.
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Liz Lighty is determined to get out of small town Campbell, Indiana. And she has a plan: go to Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor. But when Liz’s original financial aid falls through, she decides to compete for prom queen for the scholarship money. Liz feels alienated in her town, but the new girl, Mack is smart, funny, and, like Liz, doesn’t really fit into their small midwestern town. But when Mack also runs for prom queen, Liz needs to know how far she’s willing to go to fight for her dreams.
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
In this memoir-manifesto, George M. Johnson explores growing up as a queer Black boy in New Jersey and Virginia. Told through a series of personal essays, Johnson recalls his memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships. From gender identity to toxic masculinity, consent, and Black joy, this is a must read for teen allies and young queer men of color.