Teaching Moment: Make A Banned Books Bookshelf

Teaching Moment: Make A Banned Books Bookshelf

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Tess Wilson
Sep 29, 2014
(Image credit: Jill Slater)

Do you organize your books by title, genre, author, Dewey Decimal system, or color? Why not spice things up by corralling your most dangerous volumes on one noble shelf dedicated to freedom?

Looking over the Frequently Challenged/Banned Book list from the American Library Association, I see many of our family's favorites: the Captain Underpants series, the His Dark Materials trilogy, To Kill A Mockingbird, Brave New World, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, In The Night Kitchen, Harry freaking Potter, and so many other great works. The Illinois Library Association's list has a few more of our beloved books, including Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, as well as many that I've been meaning to read, such as Eleanor & Park* and Persepolis. The banned books display at my local library includes Little House on the Prairie, Fahrenheit 451, Coraline, Little Women, Charlotte's Web, The Lorax, Green Eggs and Ham, the Lord of the Rings series, and Winnie-the-Pooh. Our shelves would be nearly empty without all of these gems!

Displaying banned books together— whether your own or library copies— is a great chance to discuss censorship and fear with kids, and an excellent opportunity for the adults to remind ourselves to remain vigilant. I'm not sure how I'll explain to the 8-year-old that there are people who want to make it impossible for him to read Harry Potter— and at the astonishing rate he's plowing through the series, I'd like to see them try to stop him— but I'll do my best.

Happy Banned Book Week, everyone!

*The Toast has an excellent interview with Rainbow Rowell, author of Eleanor & Park, regarding the shocking censorship her book faced.

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