Books change lives, books save lives

“Reading is not something extra. It’s something essential.” –Jennifer LaGarde, a school librarian in North Carolina

This year, the trend among the Banned Books Week articles and blog posts seems to be to point out that few books are actually banned in this country these days, and that is – fortunately! – true. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still important to make sure readers of all ages have access to all kinds of books. You never know what book might change – or even save – someone’s life.

That’s why we have the “books change lives…books save lives” jar on our Banned Books Week display table. We asked readers to think about which books were important to them, and imagine if they hadn’t been able to read those books. Below are many of the titles people put in the jar this year; some of these books and authors were mentioned more than once, and some were mentioned for the second year in a row (see some of last year’s books here):

Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (at age 11) Cover image of Are You There God? It's Me Margaret

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (at age 38)

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green Cover image of The Fault in Our Stars

Fat Angie by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo

A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling Cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin

Little, Big by John Crowley

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (at age 30) Cover image of Anna Karenina

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence

Macbeth and Othello by William Shakespeare Cover image of Our Bodies, Ourselves

Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women’s Health Book Collective

The Man Who Walked Through Time by Colin Fletcher

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

Excellent Sheep by William Deresiewicz Cover image of Free Range Kids

Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy

The Endurance by Caroline Alexander

The Persistent Desire by Joan Nestle (ed.)

Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Estes

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking by Julia Bascom (ed.)

The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn Saks

The Feminine Mystique by Betty FriedanCover image of The Feminine Mystique

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, 1934-1952

Poetry as Survival by Gregory Orr

The Kama Sutra

The Bible

As you can see, there are all kinds of books on this list, from picture books to young adult novels to classics to nonfiction to poetry. There’s no telling which book will be the right book at the right time for the right reader, which is why having a library full of options is so important.

If you didn’t have a chance to stop by the library and add a book to the jar, leave a comment on the blog! Or, tell us if you’ve read one of the books above.

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