By: guest contributor Richard Price. Loudoun County Public Schools took an important first step towards inclusive support of all students with its diverse classroom libraries initiative. We can only hope that it will not bend to the forces of intolerance. Schools and libraries have a public duty to depict the world as it actual is and not as some people wish it were.
Culture and education are the lethal weapons against all kinds of fundamentalism.
ALA responds, “In particular, the public library has a responsibility to represent a broad range of materials in its collection and to meet the needs of everyone in the community it serves – not just the most vocal, the most powerful, or even the majority.”
Imagine you’re an author, in the middle of writing an international bestselling YA book series about vampires, when you find out that that same book series has been banned from one school district. Banned in its entirety. But wait. You’re not finished with the series yet. Is this school district really banning books…before they are even published?
Atwood’s sequel, set fifteen years after Offred’s step into the darkness, or else the light, at the end of the original novel, brings us new mediations on the power of reading, the strength of the mind, and women and literacy.
Anaya’s pioneering authorship introduced readers to engaging aspects of contemporary Chicano culture, a world that I can’t imagine not ever becoming familiar with.
Despite the frustrations from that book challenge, Wittlinger hasn’t shied away from writing about these tough, but important, topics that relate to teenagers. Her novels written since Sandpiper was challenged tackle everything from LGBTQIA issues, suicide, religion and spirituality, and the universal search for love and belonging.
We have a tremendous education task to execute as advocates for the freedom to read, and Banned Books Week is one awareness tool to assist in that effort.
As we were selecting the book, I came across a news article sent to me by Kristin Pekoll, Assistant Director of OIF about a school in Oregon that had banned the book along with nine other titles, including the dictionary, during the 2015-2016 school year https://theroguenews.com/19251/arts-enter/banned-books-at-ashland-high-school/
The reason listed next to Hawkins’ A Brief History of Time was “unethical context.”
The right of incarcerated people to read and the fight to allow them to do so were explored in “Minds Unlocked: Supporting Intellectual Freedom Behind Bars,” at the 2019 ALA Annual in Washington, DC. Librarians, whether they work with incarcerated people or not, are key to helping defend the right to intellectual freedom, and this presentation provided important information on the context of censorship policies and the subjective realities of what incarcerated people are and are not allowed to read.