Thursday, September 30, 2010

Not everyone’s cup of tea

 The American Library Association has dedicated the week of September 25th to October 2nd as Banned Book Week, stressing the importance of freedom to read and seeking to raise awareness about the detrimental consequences of censorship.

Teachers who bring resources into the classroom that are not directly approved of by whichever education ministry they fall under could be walking a fine line.  This is not to act as a deterrent for bringing books and other resources into the classroom but to raise awareness that they have to know the content of these resources and be prepared to justify their selections.  In other words, they should know ‘why’ they are using or suggesting the books that they do to their students.

Check out their lists of challenged books.  I’m always a little surprised (and I know I shouldn’t be) to see And Tango Makes Three  (823 R395A PIC BK) listed as either first or second in their Frequently  Challenged Books since 2006. It’s a picture book about two male penguins that are given a penguin egg to hatch in the Central Park Zoo in New York City.  It’s based on a true incident.  This book has been challenged due to homosexuality.

Would I use this book in an elementary classroom?  I don’t know. I'd like to think I would and that parents would see that the book isn't about 'gay' penguins.  I do however, recommend new teachers getting to know their students and keeping parents informed of resources that may be contentious.  Parents do have the right to decide what is appropriate reading for their children --  but only their children.  Teachers, librarians and others responsible for children can agree to that much but not to withholding books for all children. 

Censorship is an ugly battle but an important one.


Sue Bursztynski said...

I did a Banned Books Week activity at the high school where I work. The kids were shocked to learn how many of their favourite books had been banned or challenged, so they chose a book and read from it, and we put their readings on DVD, since the legalities wouldn't allow me to post them on YouTube. I have never seen kids so excited about anything. Of course, you do have to be careful, but I agree that a rents have the right to object only as far as their own kids are concerned.

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