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26 May 2016 @ 06:10 pm
Speak (and Listen) Loudly  
I loved this article about a parent reaction to banning books: http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/romano-banning-a-book-is-the-real-obscenity-in-this-case/2278971. Here is a reasoned piece about the challenge to THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER. Here was a case where a book was required reading despite it being inappropriate for the intended audience. But despite the fact that the book needed to be given to older readers, the author (John Romano) still persists in objecting to those who would seek to ban a book. Here are the two key sentences:

"So, no, I have zero problem with a parent deciding the book is inappropriate for their child.

But I have a huge problem with a parent deciding the book is inappropriate for my child."

Selection: making sure your child reads books you deem appropriate. This is your right (and responsibility) as a parent. We might disagree about what I deem appropriate (especially since I let my own residents of the back bedroom read without restrictions except in rare circumstances), but I will not allow someone else to dictate what my kids read. That is censorship.

I also appreciate the references to the fact that some will permit kids to watch TV shows with questionable content but object when milder content appears in books. I also agree that, prior to assigning a book to be read by a class, the teacher should read it him or herself.

There is a lot to like in this piece. I wish we had more cool heads when it comes to challenges over books. I would go one step further in some recommendations:

1. If you decide to use a book with "mature" content (and remember that your definition of mature content might differ from the next person's), you might want to assemble a rationale for that book. For an example of how to write a rationale and for links to existing rationales check here: http://www.ncte.org/action/anti-censorship/rationales.

2. Consider not requiring an entire class to read the same book. CHOICE should help reduce if not eliminate challenges.

3. I waver about getting permission from parents in advance of reading. Ted Hipple wrote about this years ago in English Journal in an article entitled "Somnolent Bulls, Red Flags, Dirty Books, and Censorship Pedagogy." Here is the link to the piece: http://www.ncte.org/journals/ej/issues/v90-3.

There have been plenty of challenges of late, and there will be more. But the ability to speak up, to listen to the voices of others, and to be prepared can assist all of us who continue to fight the good fight.
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