Oregon Battle of the Books sponsored by the Oregon Association of School Libraries

Alex Gino’s George and the Oregon Battle of the Books

Recently, Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB) released its reading list for the 2018-2019 school year. On this list is the award winning middle grade novel George by Alex Gino. The story centers around a young transgender child, George, who was born a boy but knows she is a girl. The book tackles the difficult, and too often undiscussed, situations and emotions a young transgender child might experience. Many parents in Oregon have taken issue with this selection, saying that the book is not appropriate for the grade level for which it was chosen.

magazine covers in a magazine rack

Gender bias lesson leads to policy changes–and questions for school librarians

No policy can be written to prevent all challenges and all selection mistakes.  But we can improve how we talk to each other and how we talk about our policies. Included here are three steps school librarians can take to lay the groundwork for improved conversations between parents, teachers, and administrators.

Parents & Intellectual Curiosity

While parents absolutely can, and should, be aware of what their children read and are exposed to and be actively engaged in helping students process what they are reading, I also believe books are a safe way for children to learn and expand their perspectives and horizons and challenge their own preexisting world views. Parents can play a critical role in helping them do so.

authors Ellen Hopkins, Gayle Pitman, and e.E. Charlton-Trujillo speak about being disinvited from schools

Author, Please Come! Nevermind. Please Don’t.

Setting aside the fact that it’s just rude, rescinding an author’s invitation to speak because the content of their book is controversial is, in fact, censorship. The physical book may not be off the shelf, but the author’s message is still being stifled. One person is making a choice for the entire school community, that what this author has to say is not of value.

Librarians Lead Against Censorship Lynn Evarts

Leading Against Censorship: An Interview with Librarian Lynn Evarts

Part of the Librarians Lead Against Censorship blog series. The Sauk Prairie High School Librarian, Lynn Evarts, remained very close to the situation throughout its unfolding and provided key leadership to the community on the matter. For her efforts, Evarts, plus her colleagues, earned the 2017 Lee Burress Intellectual Freedom Award from the Wisconsin Council of English Teachers.

Librarians Lead Against Censorship Gina Schaarschmidt

Defending Books in a Middle School: an Interview with Librarian Gina Schaarschmidt

Part of the Librarians Lead Against Censorship blog series. In 2017 Academy School District 20’s Challenger Middle School Library faced a challenge to the book Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. A parent challenged the book, objecting to language, alcohol use, violence and sexual descriptions. I had a chance to talk to Gina T. Schaarschmidt, the Challenger Middle School librarian, about the challenge and her experience working with the Office for Intellectual Freedom.

Keep Calm and Chat to a Librarian

Intellectual Freedom Needs Content, Curriculum, and Librarians

Librarians are crucial to ensuring intellectual freedom because we build relationships with learners and we help foster curiosity and creativity through daily interaction. We get to know people. We talk with them and we become trusted colleagues, mentors, and educators, yet this element of our profession often gets left out in our marketing and advertising.

Make Partnerships, Not Permission Slips: Seven Intellectual Freedom Tips for Classroom Reading

Recent book challenges in the news have involved permission slips sent home by classroom teachers when students would be reading a potentially controversial book, and I’d like to take some time to review the bigger picture surrounding classroom text selection, parent communication, and the sticky question of “permission.”