Banned Books Week: Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser

Banned Book: Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser

Where/Why It’s Been Banned: “Retained at the Bangor, Pa. Area Middle School (2007) despite a student’s aunt’s concerns about the book’s depiction of school violence. Source: Mar. 2008, p. 79.” (Source–Quote taken from the ALA banned books resource page)

My Thoughts: Give a Boy a Gun has been part of our sophomore English curriculum since I started teaching at Clio six years ago.  It’s also one of the most successful and engaging units we teach.  Todd Strasser hits many big issues like bullying, violent video games, troubles at home, etc. that students have no choice but to speak up and discuss what they’re reading.  Almost every time we read this book in class I end up hearing from my most introverted students.  It’s a powerful moment when so many students in class are buzzing and engaged and asking to have a discussion.

The story is violent, so I understand concerns about reading Give a Boy a Gun.  My bigger concern is the rising number of violent acts in schools.  They’ve escalated so much we’re now seeing news coverage of shootings near popular tourist attractions and on college campuses.  Todd Strasser makes some valid points in his book in a number of ways.  He includes information he found while researching as footnotes in the story.  He also has the book set up from varying points of view so readers can get a full perspective.  The teachable moments in this book are plentiful, so I hope teachers, librarians, and parents will take it upon themselves to read it and share it.  It’s certainly a book worth discussing.

Student Response: This response comes from one of my YA Lit students and aspiring author, Noah.

“I’m not surprised, but I still think it shouldn’t be banned.  We hear real life stories like this book all the time.  It won’t convince any kid to perform a school shooting and it tells what some kids went through.”


  1. I haven’t heard of this one. Putting it on my watch out list.

  2. I bought this book when it came out. I decided to read it before I put it on my shelves–mostly because of the title. Once I read it, I gave it to EVERY student I could. I bought another copy. I think it is an important book. One that will make students think. For the record, they began fighting over it…a book in the same vein is 19 Minutes by Jodi Picoult.

    • Mrs. Andersen says:

      I’m glad you read it and that your students love it! I have 19 Minutes; it’s another popular title. I’m pretty sure that one’s banned too!

  3. I love, love, love this book! I read it in about two hours, if that.

    I have ‘Columbine’ on my summer reading list, and I always recommend this novel with it as a supplement. But…to find out it is banned does not surprise me. It’s easy to ban something we don’t understand nor want to understand.

    John Steinbeck said it best, we have got to learn to understand one another. One of the best ways of doing so is reading.


  1. […] Love alerted me to another great Banned Book I need to read, Give A Boy A Gun by Todd […]

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