Celebrate Your Freedom To Read With Banned Books Week!

Every year, certain books are challenged in public schools and libraries for a number of different reasons, including profanity, vulgarity, LGBTQIA+ content, references to magic and witchcraft, going against “family values/morals, being sensitive, controversial, or politically charged, and so on. In order to inform the public about this censorship, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top challenged books based on reports and media stories. 

566 books were targeted in 2019, and of those books the most challenged are listed below. You can check all of them out in at least one format from Abbot Public LIbrary, and many are in multiple physical or digital formats. Some even have movies or TV shows based on them, which you can reserve in DVD format for curbside pickup, currently with no charge! 

George by Alex Gino (print, Overdrive/Libby app ebook and e-audiobook, hoopla e-audiobook)

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin (print and Overdrive/Libby app ebook

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller (Overdrive/Libby app ebook and hoopla ebook)

Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth (print and hoopla ebook)

Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis (print only)

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas (print only)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (regular print, large print, book on CD, related TV show Seasons 1-3, and Overdrive/Libby app ebooks)

Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier (print and Overdrive/Libby app ebooks)

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling:

All the Harry Potter books are also available on hoopla in different languages in ebook and audiobook format.

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson illustrated by Henry Cole (print and hoopla e-audiobook)

Celebrate your freedom to read what you choose by reserving the above titles for Curbside Pickup (please read about the process here for reserving titles and setting up an appointment to pick them up), or checking them out online through our digital services.

Find out more about Banned Books Week on the American Library Association website or the Banned Book Week website, including the history of Banned Books Week, virtual events taking place this week, the Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books or the decade, and more! 

Happy Pride! – Nonfiction and True Stories of the LGBTQ Community

Celebrate and commemorate the LGBTQIA+ Pride Month with the library’s resources and a curated reading list. Here, you will find books on the tumultuous history of the LGBT+ community’s struggle for equal rights, its disappointments and victories; you will learn about the evolving perspectives on homosexuality, and about pivotal events in the LGBT+ movement. 

All books are free and accessible through Overdrive/Libby:

A Queer History of the United States by Michael Bronski, winner of the Stonewall Award in nonfiction, covers the entire LGBT+ history from 1492 (!) to the present. Based on primary cultural and historical sources, the author shows how the American culture affected the LGBT+ experience, and how the LGBT+ experience shaped the cultural and societal history of the country. The starred review calls it “equally intellectually rigorous and entertaining.”

The Stonewall Reader, edited by New York Public Library, came out last year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, the epoch-making event in the fight for equality in the LGBTQ movement that began in the early hours of June 28, 1969. A collection of first accounts, diaries, and periodic literature that came from LGBTQ magazines and newspapers in the library’s archives, the book carefully chronicles the tumultuous fight for LGBTQ rights from five years leading up to through five years following the riots. The book was named one of the best books of 2019 on the subject.

The Stonewall uprising of 1969 was pivotal in the history of the LGBTQ+ community, and marks the start of the Gay Liberation Movement. Before Stonewall is a 1984 documentary about the LGBT community in America prior to 1969, decade by decade, and events that led to the Stonewall uprising.

A companion documentary, made fifteen years later in 1999, After Stonewall captures the lives of the LGBTQ community after the event through the end of the century.

You will find these documentaries in hoopla, free of charge and accessible at any time with your library card.

We Are Everywhere by Matthew Riemer is another book that came out in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The book is a photographic history of the LGBTQ+ movement and features the turbulent history of queer activism from its start at the end of the 19th century in Europe to the present. The book contains more than 300 images from various photographers and archives.

The Deviant’s War by Eric Cervini is the story of resistance and a secret fight for gay rights that started more than a decade before Stonewall. Franklin Kameny, a brilliant astronomer working for the U.S. Defense Department, was fired on suspicion of being a homosexual, like so many men and women before him. He fought back.

The book demonstrates a huge intellectual role that Kameny played in the gay liberation movement that triggered fundamental social changes in the post-war America.

Very well-researched and brilliantly written, the book received starred reviews in The New York Times and The Washington Post.

How to Survive a Plague by David France is another story of civil activism, this one taking place during the AIDS epidemic. It is a social and scientific history of AIDS, and a story of the AIDS movement and its activists who took their salvation into their own hands. Not only did their work expedite drug development, but it also transformed the entire medical system and cardinally changed the direction of the movement.

Prior to writing the book How to Survive a Plague, journalist David France created a documentary with the same title. The film received numerous awards and became the 2012 Academy Award nominee in documentary feature.

Pride Month At the Museums

June is Pride Month, and while celebrations may look a little different this year, many area museums are finding unique ways to honor and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community through virtual events, activities, and exhibits. Check out our curated list for ways to participate in Pride at home: 

Peabody Essex Museum:

Celebrate Pride virtually with PEM’s Pride Party Sunday Tea Dance on Sunday, June 21 starting at 5:00 pm. Read more details about this live-streamed Pride celebration/Summer Solstice/Father’s Day dance party extravaganza here.

Boston by Foot:

On Tuesday, June 23 from 7:00 – 8:00 pm, join Boston by Foot for a special virtual event, “Boston’s LGBTQ Past, celebrating gay and lesbian history and culture in Boston from the 1840s through the 1980s. Learn more about this free event here.

Boston Children’s Museum:

Create your own “Love Is” Hearts to celebrate what love means to you with this activity from the Boston Children’s Museum’s Daily Activity archive. Be sure to check out their Facebook page throughout the month for more Pride-related activities for kiddos.

Harvard Art Museums:

View “Duchess Milan, 69, Los Angeles, CA,” a recently acquired piece from artist Jess T. Dugan’s “To Survive on this Shore,” a series of portraits and interviews with transgender and gender non-conforming older adults.

Museum of Fine Arts:

Tune in on Sunday, June 28 at 2:00 pm for a musical and visual performance from singer-songwriter Anjimile and artist Jess T. Dugan, as part of the Sound Bites: Nancy Lee Clark Concert Series. Learn more about this event here.

And read about Paul Cadmus’s Stone Blossom: A Conversation Piece, and the glimpse he gave into the lives of members of the LGBTQ+ community in mid-century America.

For more ways to celebrate Pride Month, check out the June is Pride Month collection of ebooks and audiobooks on Overdrive/Libby, as well as hoopla’s collections of LGBTQ ebooks, audiobooks, movies, music, and more!