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05 October 2015 @ 04:34 pm
SpeakLoudly (and use your judgment, please)  
I was reading an article about whether or not to ask permission to use controversial materials in the curriculum. One of the authors is an 8th grade teacher who uses excerpts from THE THINGS THEY CARRIED and LOOKING FOR ALASKA in class to teach syntax. Frankly, I was a bit puzzled. With more than 6000 books published each year for children, tweens, and teens, why not use materials more developmentally appropriate? There are plenty of other excerpts that could be used. This author even admits buying LOOKING FOR ALASKA for class and then sending them back after "f bombs" and a scene involving creative use of toothpaste. This stopped me in my tracks. Why in the world would an educator order a class et of books? Why order a class set of books he or she had not yet read? Why continue to use the book with students anyhow to teach syntax? And then there is this almost gleeful passage about letting the kids go find the books not permitted on the shelves for themselves. Again, the author uses examples of books intended for an older audience.


The author asks who gets to decide what is appropriate? This educator leaves this to the parents. But, in reality, that is NOT the case when portions of the text are used, when kids are given the source, when they then track them down for themselves. I want two things to happen here: I want the educator to use her or his judgment and select books intended for her or his "audience." AND I want the educator in question to DECIDE what is appropriate and now make decisions based on keeping her or his job. Make the decision based on what you know about your students, please.

As we move forward from Banned Books Week, I want to offer some unsolicited advice. After 40 years of teaching, I do not wait for someone to ask my advice, I offer it freely, especially when it comes to books. So, here goes:


1. I want to encourage every educator to use books for class lessons sparingly. They are better served when students select their OWN books for their reading whether for the classroom or for outside reading.
2. Please, no class sets. CHOICE, CHOICE, CHOICE.
3. If you feel you must have ONE class set, for heaven's sake, let it be one you have read. Not just for possible controversial content (if you read why some books are challenged, you will soon surmise that there is no such thing as a "safe" book anyway), but also for how you might use parts of the book in your teaching.
4. Do not tease kids with books you will not put on the shelves because you are afraid of losing your job.
5. Permission skips do to mean someone will not object to a book on your shelves.
6. Be prepared to defend your books.
7. Read more about censorship and its history. Read WHAT TO DO BEFORE THE CENSORS COME. Read the resources at ALA and NCTE and NCAC.
8. Know your school/district policy about reconsideration of materials.
9. Follow said policy. If it does not exist, create one with your librarian.
10. READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.READ. READ. READ. READ.
 
 
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