One of my all-time favorite books is, hands down, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. It all started when I was in the 6th grade and a classmate had just discovered this book and told me that I just HAD to read it. She later lent me her copy to read and the rest is history. The Outsiders was the first non-kids book I ever re-read and to this day, I still go back to it. Sure, it has been at least six or seven years since I last read it, but this book had a lasting impression on me.
I love this book so much because it's a story that still speaks to its target audience. There's a character for everyone to identify with, whether it be through their personality, home life, love of sunsets, or social status.
The Outsiders has been challenged numerous times (it was #43 on the list of 100 most frequently challenged books from 1990-2000) since it was published in 1967 due to the use of profane language, violence, alcohol & tobacco use, and for depicting a less than perfect (and unconventional) family. People are really challenging it for these reasons? Sometimes you have to wonder if people are actually aware of what is going on around them.When I was in high school these things were a part of every day life for some. Trying to pretend it isn't reality is just plain dumb.
I really think this is where people go wrong, they (they usually being officials, parents, whomever) challenge and try to ban books because they don't agree with the topic or what characters are doing because they're worried the young minds will become corrupted, but it should be the opposite. Saying things are bad and that they shouldn't do something (drinking, smoking, cursing, etc) is fine so long as you talk about the reasons why you think it's wrong. Instead of challenging and banning books, why not be an adult and use them as tools and openly discuss the issues you have a problem with.
Kids and teens are highly underestimated when it comes to what you think they know. To think they must remain naive until you deem them old enough to know the "ways of the world" is naive in and of itself.