September 23 – 29 is Banned Books week, a week celebrating the freedom to read, drawing attention to banned and challenged books, and highlighting persecuted individuals or groups. Each day this week, I’ll countdown the top ten books most often challenged or removed from schools, universities, or libraries across the United States.
#6 – Sex is a Funny Word
written by Cory Silverberg
illustrated by Fiona Smyth
This 2015 informational children’s book written by a certified sex educator was challenged because it addresses sex education and is believed to lead children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex.”
I am truly baffled at this, absolutely beyond confused. Sex is a Funny Word is a beautifully illustrated comic book that celebrates bodies of all shapes, sizes, colors, abilities and genders. It discusses the parts most of us keep hidden, and why some people cover more than others. It discusses the concept of privacy for children and stresses the importance of consent. It validates kids’ feelings about themselves, their bodies, their emotions.
As it also illustrates non-traditional family structures, most especially same sex marriage, and gender outside a strict binary male/female system, the reason it’s appeared on the Banned Books List is apparent. And sad. It’s a great book for kids, and their parents, to use as a conversation starter for those difficult conversations everyone should have with their children.
written by Alex Gino
George, a Lambda Literary Award winner for middle grade children, was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.
That’s it. That’s the entire reason.
Yeah, I’m baffled too.
The story centers on Melissa, a fourth grader whom everyone knows as George, who wants to play Charlotte, the female spider, in her school’s production of Charlotte’s Web. The teacher thinks she’s pulling a prank. Melissa then refuses to act in the play, instead joining the stage crew. After coming out as transgender to her best friend, Kelly, they plan a way for Melissa to take the stage…as Charlotte.
It’s truly sad that in the 21st century there are still people so uncomfortable with another person’s true self that they’d rather remove the few books that celebrate them.
It’s a winner of the 2016 Lambda Literary Aware, the California Book Award, and the Stonewall Award.