Teen Voices: Jessica G. on Banned Books Week

Each month we spotlight a teen (or two) at CPL.

This month we're highlighting Jessica G. in honor of Banned Books Week, September 24-30. It just so happens that Jessica is a voracious reader now, but she wasn't always.

Jessica discovered the joy of books in her early teen years. Much to her surprise, she learned a few of her favorite books from that time are on lists of frequently challenged books compiled by the American Library Association, and she had some thoughts to share.

"I read Ttyl and L8r, G8 in sixth and seventh grade and enjoyed the series immensely. The story is told in between messages from friends and follows the drama that occurs in their friendship. I remember the books being a great deal because they involved technology, which was something that was thought of as cool at the time because most of my friends did not have phones or laptops like one does now. The acronyms were new to me as well, so it provided a 'teen language' that only we could understand, which was pretty nice.

"I had no idea these books were one of the most challenged because of swearing and language that concerned parents. The audience of this book is teenagers, and the reason it became so popular was because we could relate to it."

Jessica said she became more of a reader when she read Bridge to Terabithia, which follows the story of a great friendship.

"When I read this book, I became lost in Terabithia, a land that was full of adventure and fun. I could not get enough of this book. It was funny, magical and full of possibilities. When I heard this book was challenged because of its swearing and references to witchcraft and atheism, I disagreed. Yes, the end was tragic, but aren’t most great books? The book had a combination that made me not even notice the ‘witchcraft’ or ‘atheism’ being referenced because I was more interested in the characters and their lives. I would recommend this book to young and teenage readers because it deals with love, friendship and childhood. If you want to escape from reality, this is the book for you."

To Jessica, these books opened up a new world. She now reads all the time and loves that she can choose from a wide variety of books that are relatable and offer a unique escape. We're grateful for her support of CPL and hope Jessica continues to find all the books she wants to read on our shelves in Harold Washington Library Center's YOUmedia.