A big thank you to Brene Duggins from East Davidson High School for submitting this week's blog post. Just in time for Banned Books Week next week!
Do you think about what you read? Do you ever think about the fact that you have the freedom to choose what you read? Did you know that every year hundreds of books in public school libraries are challenged? That book...yeah, the one you have in your hand right now, could be on a challenged or banned book list somewhere in the country. In 2014, 311 challenges were reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom, those are just the ones that were reported. In the 9 years I have been in Media, I have only seen one challenge result in a title being banned district-wide. This happened while I was teaching in Johnston County, NC. The book was titled “How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accent” by Julia Alverez. It was an eye opening experience to be able to talk to the Media Coordinator that went through that process. Remember this could happen to any of us at any time. There is information about the Challenge process in our DCS Media Manual.
So….what does this have to do with us? What does this have to do with our students? Everything!
Remember Banned Book Week this isn’t just about young adult books it is about the freedom to read all books! In the past, while I was at the Elementary level, we celebrated Banned Book Week. Did you know that there are tons of children’s books on the challenged lists. A version of Red Riding Hood was challenged because the cover of the book displayed a bottle of wine in Red Riding Hood’s basket. Even Where’s Waldo has been challenged in the past, I know that many of us enjoyed looking for that character in a red and white striped shirt. A great place to start to see what books have been challenged over the years is the ALA Banned Books webpage http://www.ala.org/bbooks/ This site has the most challenged books for the previous year and the reasons why they were challenged. It also includes if that challenge was upheld by the library of district. There are lots of great resources on this page.
This year at East Davidson High School, we are celebrating Banned Books week September 27th-October 3rd with book displays, photo opportunities and Censorship Presentations.
All of the 1st semester English classes will be visiting the Media Center to discuss Censorship and how it relates to Books in the Library. During this presentation, we will be sharing with them many well known and loved titles and will give them the opportunity to guess why these books were challenged. When I have shared a similar presentation in the past students are shocked to learn that many of their favorites growing up are on the list like: Where’s Waldo, James and the Giant Peach, Goosebumps, Alice in Wonderland, and more. We also discuss books that come up in many English classes like: The Diary of Anne Frank, Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird and Fahrenheit 451.
Our displays went up last week, so that students had time to be curious. Our bulletin board is a display of a book that is chained shut with the caption “Unlock Your Mind.” Many students have already started asking “What does this mean?” “Why is there a chain around the book?” It is a great conversation starter for not only students but the teachers. These conversations have lead us to talk about our entry table, which is currently covered with books that are wrapped in brown paper and have the words “banned” written in red letters. There are also paper flames spread around the table. We have had a number of students come in and say “this is like Fahrenheit 451!” A few teachers have asked what titles are under the paper? and if they can get a list of the titles that are frequently challenged.
One my favorite pieces is the “Caught Reading Banned Books” photo opportunity. This is where we have a backdrop set up that looks like a police line up. Students can select a book from our Banned Book Titles display and have their picture taken with a booking board that reads “Caught Reading Banned Books.” These pictures will be printed and displayed in the Media Center.
I love that this particular literary week happens at the beginning of the year, because we can use the shock factor to get the students’ and teachers’ attention and get them thinking about the fact that they do have a right to choose what they read and that along with that right, people have the right to challenge books that they feel are inappropriate.
Welcome to the official blog just for DCS library media programs. Enjoy new posts from one of our many contributors and follow along to see the amazing things happening in Davidson County school libraries.