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Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week begins today, September 27 and continues through October 3.  It is a week I truly look forward to each year!

Yes, we CELEBRATE Banned Books Week in my library.

Every year since beginning as a librarian (7 years now), I've made a special point to teach a lesson, make a display, and talk to students about their freedom to read.  Each year, my students are amazed as they look through the piles of books available in our library that have been challenged or banned in other schools and libraries.  We also discuss what banning means and why we have these books available in our tiny, rural school library.

In our library, I have a large sign that reads:

 It is the policy of RMHS library to support the right to read, not restrict it.

I explain to students that this statement comes directly from our board approved collection development policy which also says "No parent has the right to determine the reading, viewing, or listening material of students other than their own." This policy and statement gives us much to talk about as we debate why certain books might be challenged. Students usually are quick to discover that some of the very titles that are required reading in English classes are often found on the list of frequently banned and challenged books. Other students discover that some of their very favorite books are on the list as well. There is much discussion about who can/should make the decision about what you should and shouldn't be able to read. Discussions also center around how books are like clothes -- one size does NOT fit all and sometimes you have to grow up to fit (into) a book. Our library has books that fit sixth graders through twelfth graders and that is certainly a lot of sizes and shapes!

This year is no different!  I'm looking forward to talking to students about the top challenged YA books from 2014:

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  2. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon Books/Knopf Doubleday) 
  3. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston)
  4. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury Publishing) 
  5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (MTV Books/Simon & Schuster)
  6. Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic)
  7. Chinese Handcuffs, by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins) 
  8. The Giver, by Lois Lowry (HMH Books for Young Readers)
  9. The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage/Knopf Doubleday) 
  10. Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Dutton Books/Penguin Random House)
We have 9 out of 10 of these books available in our library currently and will be ordering #7 soon!

I was inspired last week by an amazing bulletin board and display constructed by Jonathan Werner and shared on the Cape Elizabeth Schools LLC blog.


He shared his pdf files on the blog and I immediately printed them out and got busy.  Then I quickly remembered how much WORK goes into a quality interactive display.  (Holy time suck Batman!)



After several days, fails,  and experiments, this is what I came up with:

I added a "photo booth" for students to take their #shelfies to post on our Instagram page.  This was inspired by Nikki Robertson's sharing her cool set up:

We even tested it out at the end of the week...

A photo posted by Rossville Middle/High Library (@rmhslibrary) on
So, thanks to my PLN, we're ready at RMHS to share the love of reading (BANNED) books!


I hope you'll celebrate your right to read and share a (banned) book with someone.  


I'd love to hear about your favorite book that appears on the top 100 list of banned and challenged books!  Leave a comment and I'll be sending a reader one of my favorite banned and challenged books.


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