In honor of Banned Books Week, my student assistants and I created a display of books from our school that the American Library Association (ALA) lists as appearing on their Frequently Challenged Books page. One of the things I like most about this display is the conversation it generates among students. Situated just inside the library entrance, it entices many students to stop and discuss the books there with each other or with me.
They question many things about the display. Have you read this book? What is Banned Books Week? Did we ban these books? Why was this or that book challenged? Can they check out the book? Who decides which books are banned?
I respond with my own catalog of questions. Have they read the book? Did they find anything objectionable? How would they respond if they heard an elementary school student read the book? Based on the graphics on the display, what can they conclude about why books are challenged? Who should decide what people read? What dangers are there in banning books at any institution?
I'm enjoying both my interactions with the students and witnessing their interactions with each other around this topic. Their comments and conversations are as varied as they all are. They range from whether or not they liked the book to insightful commentary on society, propaganda, and life in general.
For more information on Banned Books Week, click here.
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