All across the country, libraries and classrooms have been celebrating Banned Books Week this week. Here at SK, I spent some time with both of the 5-6 classrooms to talk about what this celebration of intellectual freedom is all about and why it matters.
In Sam's class, the conversation turned quickly to censorship and why people might want to censor that which others read, see, or hear. We talked about video game ratings and movie ratings, too, and how the selection of materials deemed "appropriate" differs from family to family and from community to community. We also talked about the importance of context and how passages from a book, when read on their own, may send one message but that it's important to read the whole book in order to understand what the author is really trying to say.
In Jason's class, we talked about what "appropriate" means and how the word is context-dependent. We also combed through Jason's bookshelves to find several titles that often appear on lists of challenged books. Jason explained that good books aren't good for every person at every time and that his decision to offer/suggest some books over others has less to do with censorship and more to do with his understanding of his students as young people whose concept of the world is still developing. I echoed this view when I explained the library selection policy.
In addition to great conversations, our Banned Books Week celebration included exploration of this map of challenged books, as reported to the American Library Association. Make sure to check out the book challenge reported in Australia (hint: it has to do with "prohibited dog breeds").
For more information on challenged books, check out the American Library Associations Banned Books site, the Banned Books Week website, and this list of frequently challenged books.
Free people read freely,