Last month, as Mary Beth Tinker and John Tinker celebrated the 50th anniversary of their landmark legal win on behalf of students’ First Amendment rights, they make connections to today’s student activists and the issues students and citizens of all ages are moved to protest.
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.
The adult services staff received a package in the mail presented as if it were an ILL. Upon opening it, Jamie Dacyczyn found a paperback book, cataloged in the Teen Comics section, wrapped in white bandage tape with the words “filthy” and “not suited for children” and “18+” written on the tape. It also came with a 4”x 6” lined unsigned post-it note explaining how this books was found at a camp for children and it is totally inappropriate for teens, etc.
With the major success of science fiction and fantasy films based on novels recently including The Hunger Games (not published by Tor) and Ender’s Game (published by Tor), I have long thought that science fiction and fantasy was a great “gate way” genre for reluctant teen readers in particular. Therefore, as a librarian and a buyer of Tor’s books myself I would add my voice to those asking Tor and Macmillan to reconsider this embargo.
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.
My professional concerns collide with my parenting worries: What is “appropriate” for young people? How should schools and communities respond to “controversial” content and issues? How can teens and adults communicate about difficult topics? Here’s a peek into the talks my daughter and I’ve had about Rise, Spring Awakening, and the tough topics that teens and adults work through every day.
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.
When I read Barbara Dee’s middle-grade novel Star-Crossed—a story about Mattie, an eighth-grade girl who plays Romeo opposite her crush, the talented and beautiful Gemma, and how Mattie comes to terms with this crush and expressing it—I cried.
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.”