This Monday I had a good talk with a few 8th grade classes about banned (challenged) books. It was an awesome talk. With the first period they were hesitant to talk about what might cause a book to be challenged but by the fourth class they were offering all kinds of suggestions. My favorite was the girl who said, "provocative text." Half the class raised their hands to ask what provocative meant.
It was fun to show them a book that had been challenged and to ask them what might have been the issue with the book. They were so surprised at some of the books on the challenged list.
One girl (a student I had when I taught kindergarten whom I thought would never really be a serious student) stated that books might be banned because it makes you question authority. I added that it's not necessarily authority but question your values or a way you were raised. This is what a lot of parents/groups fear when they actively seek to ban a book.
This same week I have a friend whose daughter is reading at a high lexile level. And she has to read books at that level for school (like a lower level will make her a worse reader or something. I hate reading levels. It drives me nuts when teachers get too focused on them!). She told her mom that the book they found has a lot of bad words in it. Her mom asked me if I thought that was a problem. I said, no. Just because she's reading it doesn't mean she will say it!
I understand people feeling their child is not ready for a certain book, I am one of those people. But, that person is probably still open minded enough to tel their child to just give it a few years.
In the 8th grade class was working with, they all said that if someone told them they couldn't read something the first thing they wanted to do was read it.
It was a great discussion! There are some really smart kids out there!
(I just keep waiting for my vice principal to come in with a complaint form a parent who says that her child told her that "the librarian said we could read whatever we wanted." Hopefully that won't happen!)
How is your Banned Book week going?