We are coming to the end of National Banned Books Week (Sept 25-Oct 1), in which citizens of the United States celebrate the fact that we live in a free and diverse country, where we have access to read what we like.
In celebration of the week, I was in the 8th and 10th grade classrooms sharing the history of the right to read and showcasing some of the books that have been challenged in libraries across the country. The students were interested to hear that the bible was one of the most challenged books last year! Others from the 2015 top ten list of most challenged books included: Looking for Alaska by John Green, I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan.
The big thing I stress during this lesson, and this week overall, is that it's okay that not everyone likes the same thing and that we feel that our children reading certain books is unacceptable. Everyone has their own set of values and morals; we each have an idea of what media our children should and shouldn't consume. That is our right as parents and teachers. However, when there are concerns about materials, especially in the library, it is important to have conversations with children about what those issues are and how your families personal values are shared or are different than the values and actions showcased in the book.
In the US we all have the right of access to varied and diverse reading material. We have the right to read what we want. If you feel your child is reading something that goes against your values, please discuss why you feel that way with them and create a teachable moment.
There is much more information about Banned Books Week on the American Library Association's website.
Dav Pilkey, author of Captain Underpants
Sherman Alexie, author of The Absolute, True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
John Green, author of Looking for Alaska