By: Holly Eberle
Have you ever put together a really good Banned Books Week display? I loved setting up my annual display and hearing parents discuss The First Amendment, censorship, and literature with their children while working my reference desk shifts. Banned Books displays are very visceral to children, especially when they recognize or have read the featured books. I’m not sure I will be able to reach as many families in the same way.
Like many things this year, I am having to re-think how I do Banned Books Week. Something I have noticed over the summer is that kids are not incredibly interested in virtual programs outside of storytime videos. Take and Make crafts or kits have become the most popular type of youth programming. I imagine the desire for manipulatives will increase as students in my library district must be logged into Zoom for school from 8:00am-2:15pm five days a week.
Banned Books Week Take Home Kit
And so, I put together a Banned Books Week kit. I included a couple Banned Books Week bookmarks, a Library Bill of Rights / Freedom to Read Statement pamphlet, a Report Censorship magnet, an Erase Censorship pencil, a wordsearch, a maze, and a paperback copy of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. As for treats, I packed in some assorted Wonka candies, a Captain Underpants themed Blow-Pop, and a Harry Potter snitch Ferrero Rocha. Kids can pick these kits up inside the Library (we are open) or via our drive-up window.
The goal is for kids to attend a virtual Banned Books Week Book Club on October 1st so that we can talk about Scary Stories but also censorship or Banned Books Week. I absolutely love talking to children about book banning and the freedom to read. They get passionate about it because it is typically youth literature being challenged. I know that when my elementary school librarian removed Goosebumps from the shelves for being too scary, I simply checked them out from my public library and brought them to school.
Banned Books Week List Challenges
I created some How Many Banned Books Have You Read on List Challenges for my community. There is one for children, one for teens, and one for adults. This is personal for each patron and perhaps the lists will motivate people to read more of the books!
Another thing I have learned from Banned Books Week displays over the years is that there are many banned books that surprise people. There are the classics that oftentimes make the news such as And Tango Makes Three, Captain Underpants, or Harry Potter. The diversity of frequently banned books lists can show how censorship is not an issue limited to a certain set of political beliefs, it really affects everyone.
Holly Eberle is the Youth Technology Librarian at the Algonquin Area Public Library District in northern Illinois and a member of the Intellectual Freedom Committee. She received her MLIS from the University of Illinois in December 2015. Her passion for the intellectual freedom rights of youth began in kindergarten when her elementary school library pulled the Goosebumps series off the shelves. She also is interested in the technological realm of intellectual freedom and privacy issues. Outside of the library she is a metalhead and you may follow her on Instagram @doom_metal_librarian.