Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Annie On My Mind and Banned Books Week on My Calendar

I come from a small town, and from very liberal parents.  I don’t remember any checks on what I was reading, never once being told I couldn’t read anything or having to sneak books into my room.  Well, except for the copies of Julie Garwood’s historical romances that were my mom’s, but that was more because I didn’t return them where they were supposed to go rather than I wasn’t supposed to be reading them.  The first blip on my radar of books being not acceptable for some was an incident when I was in late elementary/ early middle school.  I vaguely remember it- the parents got involved about a book in the school library collection having to do with witches, and I remember my mom going down and talking about keeping the book in the collection and standing up for the school librarian, and the book stayed in the library.  I remember her reasoning clearly – it’s not anyone’s right to keep books from anyone else’s children; I can say what you can and can’t read, but I can’t say what’s right for anyone else’s kid. 

So I ran amok on my reading adventures, and came across Annie On My Mind.  I checked it out from the larger public library near us, and thought it was wonderful.  Loved the story between Liza and Annie, lived the story and felt my heart break.  Clueless me, I didn’t realize that Annie On My Mind was controversial, or groundbreaking; I thought it was a really really good romance story.  I did know that same-sex couples weren’t out in the open where I lived, even though I knew of some in high school, but I just figured that everyone handled it like my extended family, and everyone did what they wanted in private and it was all good.  Now, I understand that they were hiding what they were for fear of attacks and bullying, and I think that coupled with my family experience makes me more of a passionate ally for GLBTQ teens and GLBTQ literature in
Annie on My Mind was first published in 1982.  30 years later, and while we have Gay-Straight Alliances in schools and more books like Annie on My Mind on the shelves and being published, teens like Annie and Liza are still having to hide their relationships for fear of parents and friends disapproving, for fear of bullying and hazing and worse.  Books about GLBTQ teens are being challenged across the country for corrupting teens and perpetuating a gay agenda that just isn’t there, and while many librarians are being supported in keeping them on the shelves, others are having to creating “parent collections” or worse, remove them entirely from their collections.  If what these teens, who are looking for answers, need is a place that we want them to feel safe, where should they look?