March 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Banned Books | Sparking Discussions with Students

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It’s Banned Books Week, and if you haven’t yet promoted it, don’t fret—there’s still (a little) time. To generate interest in the week and conversations about censorship, start by asking your secondary students to take the “Which Banned Book Are You?” quiz, created by the librarians at by the Columbus State Community College (under a grant from the Freedom to Read Foundation’s Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund). Talk about the results and why some of the books cited were challenged.

dg_bannedbooksbook009Read up on the topic with Robert P. Doyle’s Banned Books: Challenging Our Freedom to Read (American Library Association, 2014). In addition to including 1,890 children’s and adult titles that have been challenged or banned (including the when, where, and why), there are discussions of the dangers censorship poses to the First Amendment freedom to read, a “First Amendment Timeline,” quotes about free speech and censorship, and title, geographical, and topical indices. (Under “D” is the 1998 edition of Robert P. Doyle’s Banned Books, removed from a 1999 display when it was determined that “some of the materials listed in the publication were inappropriate for students.”)

Dig deeper with a look at School Library Journal’s extensive resource list on banned books and the American Library Association’s lists of the most challenged books. Get children asking about why specific books were banned or challenged with a display of the many children’s titles you’ll find in these works, including books by Dav Pilkey (too many titles to note), Jeanette Winter (Nasreen’s Secret School, The Librarian of Basra), Elizabeth Winthrop (The Castle in the Attic); Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park), Glen Rounds (Wash Day on Noah’s Ark), Louise Fitzhugh (Harriet the Spy, The Long Secret), Karen Cushman (The Midwife’s Apprentice), and Pura Belpré and Carlos Sanchez (Pérez and Martina).

Curriculum Connections

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Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.