Books are most often challenged for language, sexual content, and violence, but what about for political reasons? A perfect storm ensues when political ideologies, race-based fears, and those seeking political gain exert influence over a school’s curriculum.
Parents in Mahwah, NJ are expressing distress that the school district has, in their view, reduced student access to books in the school libraries.
Part of the reason that the novel is so well loved, I think, is because it challenged so many of us to think about difficult issues. Whether we continue to teach Mockingbird or choose to move on to another, more modern book, one important lesson from Mockingbird will live on – we will continue to read, and love, our banned books.
R.L. Stine was born today in 1943, and has made a successful career scaring readers of all ages!
A federal district court ruling earlier this month which held that there is no clearly established constitutional right to literacy in the United States has reminded me that the various pieces of my background are sometimes in conflict with one another.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When the superintendent of the Dixie County School District sought to censor the reading lists of students, Library Media Specialist Lindsey Whittington stood up for intellectual freedom and fought the ban.