May 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

News Bites: Get Your Voice Heard During Banned Books Week!

Freedom to Read

Banned Books Week: From September 30 to October 6 libraries, ALA Banned Book Week logoschools, and bookstores will celebrate Banned Books Week, an annual event that focuses on First Amendment rights. “During Banned Books Week, we hope to remind Americans that the ability to read, speak, think and express ourselves freely is a right, not a privilege,” said Maureen Sullivan, American Library Association President. “As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week, it’s important to recognize that book banning does exist in this day and age. It’s up to all of us, community residents, librarians, teachers and journalists, to continue to stand up and speak out for the right to read.”

To commemorate the event, ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom is coordinating the “50 State Salute to Banned Books Week.” State or regional library associations, local libraries, bookstores, schools, universities, and community organizations are urged to create a video of no more than 5 minutes for the Banned Books Virtual Readout “that emphasizes ways each state’s community celebrates freedom to read during Banned Books Week.” You can upload your video to a special YouTube channel. During last year’s Banned Books Week, more than 800 videos were uploaded, and included posts by such challenged authors as Judy Blume and Lauren Myracle. ALA encourages libraries to participate in the read-out by facilitating the event in their institutions. Be sure to check out the instructions for creating and submitting your video.

Broadcast journalist Bill Moyers and Judith Moyers have been named honorary co-chairs of Banned Books Week. Bill Moyers, a longtime supporter of the event, will appear in an online video “addressing the importance of our freedom to seek and express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”

Filmmaking Competition

Shoot a documentary: StudentCam, C-SPAN’s 2013 national video documentary contest, is open to middle and high school students. Students in grades 6 to 12 are asked to produce a 5-8 minute video focusing on this year’s theme: “Message to the President: What’s the most important issue the president should consider in 2013?” Entries must represent varying sides of the issue and include some C-SPAN video footage that supports the topic. Kids can compete individually or in teams of two or three. While the video must be the original work of the student, teachers are permitted to provide guidance. Rules for preparing the film and other guidelines can be found online. Young filmmakers can upload their videos directly online.

C-SPAN Student documentary contest logoA total of 75 student prizes and 11 teacher prizes, totaling $50,000, will be awarded. There will be one grand prize—the student will receive $5,000 and the teacher/school will get $1,000 to purchase digital video equipment for the school. Awards in the middle and high school categories for first, second, and third prize winners range from $750 to $3,000, and teacher/school awards will range from $125 to $500. There will also be $250 for each of the 48 honorable mentions. The deadline for entries is January 18, 2013, and winners will be announced in March 2013. The top 27 winning videos will air on C-SPAN in April.

StudentCam is sponsored by C-SPAN Classroom, a free membership service intended to support educators’ use of C-SPAN programming in their classes or for research.

Test Prep

College admissions: It’s college application time for high school seniors, and now there’s help available. Shmoop is partnering with college preparation site Zinch to give students access to any one of Shmoop’s test prep resources, including the SAT, ACT, and PSAT, through January. Teens can register on Zinch Prep and get access to one of Shmoop’s test prep resources. If they want access additional Shmoop resources, they can go directly to Shmoop’s website and find additional test prep materials for a fee, unless their school or school district is already a member.

Zinch Prep is a college counseling program that offers students free step-by-step instructions from experts to help them through the college admissions process. Zinch Prep’s web series will provide information on college admission tips, writing your personal statement, application mistakes to avoid, and how to ask for recommendations. Schmoop is a digital curriculum and test prep company. “High income families will pay thousands of dollars for individual college admissions counselors, creating an advantage, while many students from families of more modest means may not be aware of the opportunities they have,” said Bob Patterson, Director of College Outreach at Zinch. “Zinch wants to help those students by offering Chegg Presents Zinch Prep and providing college admissions support to the 99 percent.”

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Phyllis Levy Mandell About Phyllis Levy Mandell

Phyllis Mandell was Managing Editor/Multimedia Review Editor for SLJ.



  1. “Book banning does exist in this day and age”? Where? No books have been banned in the USA for about half a century. Thomas Sowell calls BBW “National Hogwash Week” and for good reason. To balance the above story with factual information, read what Dr. Sowell said and many others here:

    As former ALA Councilor Jessamyn West said, “It also highlights the thing we know about Banned Books Week that we don’t talk about much — the bulk of these books are challenged by parents for being age-inappropriate for children. While I think this is still a formidable thing for librarians to deal with, it’s totally different from people trying to block a book from being sold at all.”