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September 25−October 2, 2010 is Banned Books Week. No, my calendar isn’t broken, but I figure, what wait?
In my opinion, there’s no time like the present to thumb your nose at someone else’s supposed authority over your intellectual freedoms. Check out Amazon’s helpful compilation of banned books. You’ll be surprised what’s there! It’s actually a pretty decent list of must-reads.
Pretty amazing how easily some people can be led to self-righteous, passionate outrage over literary expression. I guess they don’t get out much.
For those brave souls who dare enter the world of (gasp!) graphic novels, you’ll find that Get Graphic is a comfortable place to start. In addition to the helpful Teachers’ Pages, the site features an extensive and impressive A-Z offering of annotated titles, complete with recommended grade level, a short summary, and web site.
I’m a fan of graphic novels and I fully support their use in the classroom (see my lame attempt here to expound on the subject), but I won’t even pretend to be an expert. This site, however, offers me a fighting chance of keeping up with those crazy kids and their eclectic literary pursuits.
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Book burning in Berlin. Lesson lost on some, apparently.
This stuff still happens? In a way. This brief article posted at the School Library Journal provides some guidance for librarians dealing with parents who want to remove “objectional” books from the library. Definitely of interest to teachers who use novels which might be deemed controversial.
Be sure to read all the entries. One parent group concerned about gang activities at the local mall wants to remove all books dealing with gang themes from the library. First of all, does this mean that modern-day classics like The Outsiders and time-honored treasures such as Romeo and Julietwill be banned for the gang-related topics? And secondly, are Bloods and Crips really turning to the public library for how-to advice?
My take on this? First, educate parents. Provide them with information which summarizes the books you’re teaching, while at the same time providing a rationale; in other words, why this book and not another? Second, have a fall-back book for those students whose parents object to the title you’re using. For example, if a parent objects to The Devil’s Arithmetic, substitute another Holocaust-related novel. The two books can address identical themes, and be assessed by nearly identical means. This respects the parents’ wishes for their children while maintaining control of the instruction and curriculum within your own classroom. Third, be sure that all books you’re using have been approved (including read-alouds and micro-texts). You want the district behind you should an offended parent come out swinging!