This month, Pat Scales fires back on a principal who nixes the study of a novel with a Buddhist mother-character in a world religions program, a teacher who wants to label library books by reading-level, and a company contracted for book fairs that labels a graphic novel featuring a kiss between two boys as “Mature Content.”
This article was published in School Library Journal's February 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.
A public librarian asks if merging her teen and adult collection will reduce the challenges to the YA literature collection; a school librarian writes about the superintendent’s restriction on teaching some of the classics listed on the Facts on Fiction website. SLJ censorship columnist, Pat Scales, provides answers to these matters and more.
This article was published in School Library Journal's September 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.
Librarian and SLJ columnist Pat Scales responds to a range of censorship issues from librarians around the country.
This article was published in School Library Journal's April 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.
Chair of the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee Pat Scales offers advice and resources to educators looking to promote the freedom to read in their classrooms and libraries.
This article was published in School Library Journal's February 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.
Chair of the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee Pat Scales responds to questions about book challenges, summer reading lists, and boundaries for school library parent volunteers.
This article was published in School Library Journal's September 2013 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.
Chair of the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee Pat Scales tackles censorship questions about The Hunger Games, grammar in “Junie B. Jones” series, and why reporting materials challenges to the ALA OIF is so important.
Pat Scales, chair of the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, answers readers’ questions about censorship. This month, Scales addresses what to do when your school has inflexible or strict Internet filters, including strategies for aiding students in completing research assignments and advice on instituting new policies for challenged materials.
Oh, Mama!: What to do when a parent wants to narrow her child’s reading choices | Scales on Censorship January 2013
As I was preparing a library card for a new student, she handed me a two-page list of books that her mother won’t allow her to read. Then later on, her mother called and told me she expected me to monitor what her daughter was reading. What should I do?
You need to tell the mother that it’s not your role to monitor students’ reading. If she has an issue with the titles that her daughter chooses, then she […]
Mum’s the Word: What to do when a pushy principal has questionable principles | Scales on Censorship
In addition to reading your column, what’s the best way to keep up with news about censorship?
Start by checking out the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (www.ala.org/offices/oif), which maintains a database of challenges to library materials. These challenges are reported in its Intellectual Freedom Newsletter ($50 a year), unless the person reporting the challenge asks ALA to keep the information confidential. Another helpful resource is Robert P. Doyle’s Banned Books: Challenging Our Freedom to Read […]
Parents who visit our library’s children’s room have told me that ereaders have encouraged their kids to read. My son is a struggling reader, and he was very excited when I bought him one. But then we found out that his reading teacher won’t allow her students to read ebooks—they can only read books from the school library. How do I handle this?
Separating Church & State: Is it legal to display religious brochures in public school libraries? | Scales on Censorship
A local church recently asked me to display a brochure about its vacation Bible school in our public school library. I refused because that would violate the separation between church and state. Our principal attends the church, and some of its members have complained to him. Now I’m on the hot seat.
How Low Can You Go?: What to do when young students want to read ‘The Hunger Games’ | Scales on Censorship
Our fourth and fifth graders (and a few third graders) have been asking for The Hunger Games. I love the novel, but it’s not in our elementary school’s library collection because it’s a YA book. I think my students would enjoy reading it when they’re a bit older. I need your advice.
The district just told us that we can’t use any upper-level Accelerated Reader (AR) books in our elementary school reading program because the topics may be too mature for our students. We think they’re censoring the program and our students will suffer.
I’d say the students are the winners. Maybe they can finally read books that interest them without being tested on everything they read. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have these books in the library. The students […]
Our new elementary school principal, who comes from a fairly conservative private school, doesn’t want our library to have any banned titles. He recently told me that he’d personally check our catalog to make sure that there weren’t any titles on the banned books list. Since our district doesn’t have a library coordinator, I feel like I don’t have an advocate. Fortunately, our district has a selection policy and reconsideration guidelines. What should I do?
Perhaps the […]
Avoidance Behavior: Moving children’s books to the teen collection is the coward’s way out | Scales on Censorship
We’ve always kept Robie Harris’s books in our children’s room. But after a mother complained about them, our public library director asked us to put the titles in our teen collection. Although I was reluctant to move them, I felt I had to comply. Is this a form of censorship?
Yes. Harris’s books are written for children and families and should be available in your children’s collection. I’ve heard the argument from public […]
As a boy approached our circulation desk with a copy of Jerry Spinelli’s Wringer, his mother grabbed it and said, “I just checked reviews of that book on my iPhone, and I think there’s sexual content and violence.” They got into a tug-of-war, and I didn’t know what to do.
It’s tough to come between a parent and a child, but I’d ask to speak with the parent privately. I’d tell her about […]
Fielding parents’ complaints about summer reading programs
We just passed out information about our public library’s summer reading program, and a parent has already complained because it excludes 12-year-olds. She thinks this is a form of censorship. What’s your advice?
I assume that your summer reading program is for elementary school children. I hope that there’s a similar program for teens and preteens. My hunch is that even if there’s one for teens, that […]
Is it legal for an administrator to make sweeping changes?
What happens to challenged books after they’ve been removed from a library collection? Are they ever returned to the collection? Or are they destroyed?
It depends on the library and its board of trustees. Sometimes, books that have been removed from a collection are stored in the library director’s office or in a back room. Unfortunately, sometimes they are actually destroyed. Yes, removed books […]