This week, Sept. 29th – Oct. 6th is the official week to reflect on the freedom to read and think about how to provide that right to those who come under our influence. ALA’s theme for the event this year is Free People Read Freely and as usual the organization’s website is full of all kinds of information.
It amazes me that in this day of fighting the battle of access to the Internet and its resources riches, that we as librarians still need to be sure our patrons have that same access to the printed word! When reviewing the list of the most banned books over the years I always find some of my very favorite books (To Kill a Mockingbird, Fallen Angels, The Face on the Milk Carton, On My Honor, Huck Finn)…some long-time authors…and as always some new titles -- HP!
I have always had to deal with this issue within the framework of the school setting…a little different perspective than a public or academic librarian. I always tell school librarians—
1. KNOW YOUR COMMUNITY and select materials that go along with the curriculum where you can. Have choice available so that all concerned can find something that fits their parameters, whatever they may be.
2. KNOW YOUR BOOKS and be able to explain the good (and bad) points of the books and the authors who wrote them. Keep up with the recommendations, both from professional reviewers and colleagues in our business…a huge benefit of the blogging world!
3. ENCOURAGE CHOICE and make sure the teachers you work with understand that concept. No child should have to read one particular book…or be singled out as the only kid not reading the “class novel.” Multiple choice just makes sense…groups reading various books just makes sense…and the benefit…kids are exposed to even more books thru group discussions, projects, etc. (And advise a teacher to be sure and READ the book(s) he/she wants to "teach"--YES, I have had to advise more than one teacher of this!)
4. BE PREPARED and have a procedure in place for those time when parents and others may question one of the books in your collection. Careful reconsideration policies usually can defuse a situation and bring about a solution that pleases all.
Some other places to check information about the freedom to read…
Judy Blume Talks about Censorship
As If – YA Authors Support Intellectual Freedom (includes YouTube video)
ALA’s Banned Book Week in Cyberspace – some of these sites will be blocked, but hopefully the general info won’t be…guess we will see
Celebrate the Freedom to Read post from Google blog
Banned books and the Presidents
Chicken Spaghetti's short observation
Fahrenheit 451: Banned Books blog