Tip of the Week: banned and challenged books lists are everyone on the Web this week. If you are looking for one to read, one of my favorites is Sarah Dessen's Just Listen.
We have a Banned Books week display at my library and have had it up for the past week and a half. It's sparked many conversations. Most of them centering around people asking, "What's a Banned Book?" or "I had no idea they still banned books." However, one woman came in yesterday and told us a story of a banned book controversy that just leaves me baffled.
The controversy stemmed from several books, including the book Freedom Writers, which I haven't read, but I know is about how teens in an inner-city environment used writing to change their lives (sounds positive, doesn't it?). Apparently while very inspirational some of the content in the books is questionable for a young age group. Despite this, a teacher in a nearby city of mine wanted to use it for a classroom assignment. In doing so, she got approval from the school board and administration, sent letters to all the parents telling them about the book and its importance, and allowed the parents to remove their child from reading the book if they wanted.
After the book had been read and in general everyone liked the book, many students who had opted not to read it started to feel left out, which heightened the situation. And as a result, I think some other parents and local religious organizations heard about the book controversy and then wanted it taken out of the library, along with a few other books. It went to the the higher ups and the decision resulted in the books being kept in the library, since they had strong literary value. Which sounds good, right?
But in the process of the controversy, the teacher quit. I think feeling the pressure around her decision to use the books in the classroom, despite her making every attempt she could to avoid controversy.
So let me review this, not only did the teacher lose her job, but people were angry that students were reading the book and some students were mad they couldn't read the book. Does it seem ironic to anyone else that with anything involving banning books, not only does nobody wins, but nobody is pleased?
--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent