I love banned books. For starters, let's look at the books on The Guardian's list of Top 10 Banned Books in American schools and libraries. A few from this list that I've loved over the years include The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Chbosky), To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee), The Catcher in the Rye (Salinger), and The Color Purple (Walker). Also, I haven't read them, but my sister in-law is totally in to the Twilight series.
But just think of the authors who weren't even on this list. Vonnegut. Bradbury. Joyce. Voltaire. Chaucer. Sanger. Whitman. Rouseau. Paine. London. Shelley. Thoreau. Lawrence. Twain. Locke. Shakespeare. And the Bible. (Hat tip: The Online Books Page from Penn for having a great page on banned books.)
Here's my big question about banned books: why is it that all the best books to teach in schools are the ones that end up on the banned books list? Could it be that the reason they're chosen for schools in the first place is that they will resonate with students, because they feel real and genuine?
The "trouble" with these books is that they expose kids to some level of truth about the world (yes, even the vampire books...) that might just disrupt the tidy universe that their teachers and parents had built for them. They're just the kind of books that teach kids to love reading.
If I'd never gotten my hands on banned books, I might never have learned to love reading. Hell, I may never have learned to read at all!
In case you haven't read a lot of banned books, here are some suggestions about where to start: