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What If They Take the Books Away?

Next week the NCTE Annual Convention begins with author sessions aplenty and a new book feature, Build Your Stack®. Needless to say, the convention promises a literacy teacher’s heart-palpitating collection of books that you’ll want to take back to your students! But what if, when you do, someone in your school or district says you can’t use these books with your students? What if they take the books away?

“Impossible!” you say. Well, I sure hope so. But, just in case, here’s what you can do.

  • Make sure you have a rationale for each book—use this form to create one that aligns with your school’s curriculum and standards.  Note that NCTE has two CDs of rationales and many other rationales on file that are available for the asking. They’ll save you some research time as you use them to craft a rationale particular to your own curriculum and standards.
  • Make sure that if you put the book is into your classroom library that you have NCTE’s Statement on Classroom Libraries on hand to explain the need for and benefits of a classroom library. Better yet, be proactive and tell parents and administrators how very important it is that students have the right to read, to choose what they read, and to read a wide variety of texts. After all, this is how they become literate; this is how they learn to write. Read what Jeff Kaplan had to say about paving the way this in his blog.
  • Make sure that, if you’re using the book as part of your curriculum, you follow the school or district policy for approval. You’ll find that policy on the school / district website under School Board Policies and in the section on curriculum or instruction. If your school doesn’t have a policy or if you find the policy too restrictive, work with others to change it. A good model policy is NCTE’s Guidelines for Selection of Materials in English Language Arts Programs.  The NCTE Intellectual Freedom Center is happy to consult with you and educators in your school as you work on developing a new policy or revising an old one.
  • If things get sticky—maybe even before that—contact the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Center using our Report A Censorship Incident Form or by email at intellectualfreedom@ncte.org.