Banned Books Week : Museum Studies Student Posts : 5

Welcome to our fifth post from the Museum Studies class as they explore Banned Books Week and censorship. If you want to review their assignment or learn more about Banned Books week, please see Prof. Julie Holcomb’s recent post: Banned Books Week Introduction

by Averi Carroll

George by Alex Gino

The book I chose, George by Alex Gino, is a perfect example of how kids’ books can talk about complex topics in a way in which kids can understand. Often times kids are left out of these conversations because many adults feel that they are too young or inexperienced to offer a legitimate perspective. But what many adults fail to realize is that many kids have transgender classmates, friends, or adults in their lives and by discussing what transgender identity is and may look like, a more accepting and welcoming community is created that will grow with them.

In George, the titular character is struggling to prove to society that she is a girl and not a boy like most think. How can she prove who she is? By playing Charlotte in her class’s production of Charlotte’s Web, allowing her to show who she really is and not what society has labeled her. With her mother, teacher, and fellow students against her, it will take courage and her best friend Kelly to overcome the hatred around them and embrace who they really are. This heartwarming tale is a coming of age book for elementary and middle school aged kids that might find themselves in George’s position or have friends who are George.

The reason why this book has been the most challenged in 2020 is simple, the main character is transgender and the book is discussing what it is like to work on transitioning into who you are. In 2017, the book was kept from district libraries in Wichita, Kansas, due to being cited as inappropriate for young children. In 2021, George was challenged at Lincoln Parish Library for LGBTQIA+ characters being present in the book and could be a topic parents would not want their children reading about. After local citizens protested the censorship, George and other books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters were reinstated into the children’s collection.

This book is significant in that it is one of the earliest books for children that is directly discussing the problems transgender kids face in expressing their identity. Because of its content, George has found itself to be the most challenged book in the United States for the past 3 years, but why is that? In many states, such as Texas, LGBTQIA+ rights are constantly being challenged, overturned, and removed. Just recently Texas sued the Biden administration over opposing workplace protections for those in the community; this alone proves that there is much work to be done in terms of the rights of citizens of this country.

George is not only for children to see themselves in the position of George but, it is also for adults who grew up with no representation of themselves in a positive light in society. This book is a beacon for many as the beginning of a changing world in which they are accepted for who they are without fear of being cast out of society. As people, we must support those of us in society who are being oppressed, lift their stories and voices to those who turn a blind eye.
Society does not change without individuals courageous enough to stand up against hatred and together, we can create a better future for all.

Additional sources:

Top 10 Banned or Challenged Books 2020
George Book Review 1
George Book Review 2
Other Books Exploring Gender Identity
Brief History of George’s Challenges
Middle Middle Grade Trans Novel Most Challenged Book for Third Year in a Row
Anti-LGBTQ Book Legislation Proceeds in Multiple States
Texas sues Biden Administration over workplace LGBTQ protections

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