5 banned books written by Black women to read during your next vacation

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  • Published on March 24, 2023
  • Last Updated May 15, 2023
  • In Passport

As we close out Women’s History Month, check out these books written by Black women that have been banned.

As we head towards the end of Women’s History Month, it is important to recognize that countless Black women authors have had their work challenged and banned by a school district or library in America. According to data compiled by the American Library Association, there were 781 attempts to ban or restrict library resources between Jan. 1 – Oct. 31, 2022.

Spring break reading doesn’t get the love that summer reading gets, but this is a perfect time for a quick getaway with a book of choice. These five books range from nonfiction to fiction and were some of my favorite on-the-road reads.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (2020) by Isabel Wilkerson

Isabel Wilkerson breaks down how an unspoken caste system that has shaped America still exists today. She examines how a hierarchy of human divisions permeates culture. It is a provocative read that reveals more shock, awe, and excellence with each page. This book was banned in Texas in 2022 citing graphic content not suitable for young children.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

According to the new edition of Banned Books Resource Guide, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings has had thirty-nine public challenges or bans since 1983. Maya Angelou’s classic debut memoir is a coming of age story perfect for parents and young adults alike. I read this book as a college student and it was an introduction to a specific type of Black vulnerability, I’d never seen before. This book has been challenged for vulgarity and sexually explicit content.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Before becoming a successful film, The Hate U Give was banned by school officials in Katy, Texas, where it was challenged for “inappropriate language.” Despite the pushback from some school districts, this book sat atop the New York Times bestseller list for 50 weeks. The story about black teen Starr Williams, who witnesses the police shooting of a childhood friend was cited for its depiction of drug use, profanity, and offensive language.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Alice Walker’s seminal novel became an award-winning film and a smash hit Broadway musical. With the memorable Celie serving as the narrator, this text touches on resilience, race, family abuse and so much more. The book received ire for violence, explicit language and depictions of homosexuality. If you’ve seen The Color Purple on screen or stage, I promise you will not be disappointed by this read.

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Tiffany D. Jackson is one of my favorite writers going today. Her 2018 novel Monday’s Not Coming centers on the disappearance of Monday Charles and her best friend’s quest to find her. This book is a page-turning ride that keeps the reader engaged and enlightened from start to finish. It has been challenged in Virginia and Texas and removed from some school libraries in Utah. Loudoun County School District parents organized to have the book banned for mentions of sexual abuse and violence.

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