Writing in this blog about how precious books are is, as they say, preaching to the choir. We are the ones who love to read ourselves and who work hard to encourage our students to read. We’re well aware that books engage us, teach us, please us, and that books save lives. We own stacks of books but can spend hours in a bookstore or on Amazon looking for more. Likely, we’re English teachers because we love to read.
But, did you know that books are very important to others, too, to those who find them dangerous? These people are the challengers of books, those who find books too scary or mature or inappropriate for students or even for anyone at all. Here are a few recent examples:
“Man Who Burned LBGTQ Books from Orange City Library Charged with Misdemeanor” Dorr, the book burner, has been charged with fifth-degree criminal mischief. Do watch at least the end of the video to see Dorr burn and explain why he’s burning the books. He has refused, so far, to pay to replace the books he burned but donations from the community have poured in to replace them.
“NC High School Pulls Book Beartown From Honors Class after Parents Complain” The protest includes this: “It’s horrendous. It uses a lot of words you won’t be able to put on your newscast,” said Don Powell with Lawsonville Road Baptist Church. “It’s my feeling and other people’s feeling that it’s inappropriate for use in a classroom.” NCTE signed on a letter protesting the ban.
“Assigned Book at Fort Myers School Banned for Vulgar, Sexual Content” The book, David Benioff’s City of Thieves, was a 10th-grade class read, but Dawn Willett protested, “I have a son, but imagine a daughter reading and being referred to as the c-word, or the p-word. I can’t even bring myself to say.” NCTE signed on a letter of protest against the banning.
Well, you get the idea. . . .
So, my point is to remember that some see danger in those books that we find to be precious. We need to be aware and prepared to counter their fear, disdain, and arguments.
Good rationales for the books you teach; strong, fair, and followed school policies; book choice; and Angie Thomas’ words from the School Library Journal 2018 Day of Dialog will take you a long way toward keeping precious books in your classroom and in the hands of your students.