June 1, 2012...10:46 am

Want to “bee” the best? Read a banned book!

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Last night, the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee took place in Washington, DC.  278 young spellers took the stage over the past week, with national TV cameras capturing the drama.  We at OIF would like to extend a hearty congratulations to all the participants!

In perusing the biographies of the contestants, I noticed something interesting.  When asked to list their favorite book, some interesting titles popped up.

The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby.

To Kill a Mockingbird.

The Grapes of Wrath.

Catch-22.

The Giver.

The dictionary.

And, of course, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Hunger Games ….

So I did an informal survey.  And of 91 participants who listed a favorite book, fully 2/3 of them listed titles that have been reported to OIF as having been banned or challenged!

Now, far be it from me to draw any scientific conclusions from this study.  But it does seem to confirm something I’ve known since I was a young, voracious reader: books are an essential part of a good education.  Providing access to books — even controversial ones — helps kids (and adults), sparks imagination, and often leads to great things.

And The Phantom Tollbooth is, indeed, the best book ever.

- Jonathan Kelley, OIF Program Coordinator

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