Mary B. Nicolini
Editor’s Note: This week is Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was started in 1982 in response to a sudden increase in the number of bans on books in schools, bookstores and libraries. The theme of this year’s event (Sept. 18-24) is “Books Unite Us. Censorship divides us.
A few weeks ago, in preparation for the Cubs-Reds Field of Dreams game in Iowa, I rewatched the 1989 movie of the same name. I remembered most of the comments about Shoeless Joe Jackson and the novelist Terence Mann, but I had forgotten the bonfire at the PTA meeting, where a parent objected to a book about the presence of “objectionable content.” Kevin Costner’s wife argued for free speech, the Bill of Rights and anti-censorship, and, at the end of the meeting, the book was not removed from the program.
Fast forward 33 years later, and this Iowa PTA meeting can be repeated in local and national school board meetings. There are many things that can be covered for problems: parents agree on the use of language, ethnic and sexual standards, religion and more. In the hands of a skilled teacher, however, potential abuse can be discussed in context, explained, and not threatened. Teachers help students learn why the author chooses to use the materials they did, and the purpose of the story.
Banned in America: Rising School Book Bans Threaten Free Expression and Students’ First Amendment Rights (April 2022)
In my 35-year career teaching high school English, I have never had a book that I have taught challenged in my classroom. However, some of my options were banned in other schools. Of the books I read, I like Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” the best. O’Brien, who served in Vietnam, writes candidly about the experience. Opponents of the book expressed concern over the language O’Brien used, but as he wrote, “Send men to war, they come home with dirty words.” When my students read “The Things They Carried,” they talked about the language O’Brien used, noting that the word war is specific to the situation and purpose. of O’Brien.
I am lucky to study with a supportive management who trusts me to choose good texts to study with love and creativity. When you choose a book or short story to teach, it’s natural for a teacher to think, “How am I going to teach this?” However, what my colleagues and I have discovered is a better question, “Why should I learn this?” We ask ourselves, “Is this the best text for teaching the sustainable ideas I want to strengthen?” With “To Kill a Mockingbird,” for example, we want to emphasize the important concepts of love and faith, and focus on the parent-child relationship. Harper Lee’s often difficult book is perfect for this.
More on the book ban:Schools have banned books 2,532 times since 2021. It’s part of a ‘full-fledged’ movement.
Our teachers meet weekly to discuss curriculum, teaching and assessment, and review books, old and new. We make our own selections to determine which text best suits the situation and the most important questions.
With the guidance of a skilled and educated teacher, the meaning of the book can be realized and expanded for the reader. I love seeing students brainstorming ideas, unlocking the confusion in their brains. When reading the often-banned “The Great Gatsby” last year, one student said, “It’s like an Easter egg hunt!” about the hidden surprises he finds lurking in the pages.
We read to understand the human condition. Teachers are trained to select texts that are not only appropriate for students’ ability levels but also appropriate for the purpose of reading. It is natural for parents to want to protect their children from what they perceive to be harm; Communicating with a teacher can help prevent explosive emotions. In writing in the classroom, parents must trust the teacher to make the right choices, and, in doing so, help young people read the world and understand their role in it. .
Mary B. Nicolini has retired after 35 years of teaching in Indianapolis and Mishawaka. He is the director of the Hoosier Writing Project, a division of the National Writing Project. He has published in the English Journal and presented at state and national conferences.
The top 10 books of 2021
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 729 issues in library, school, and university facilities and services in 2021. Of the 1,597 recommended books, here are very difficult, and the reasons mentioned for holding the books:
- The Queer Man by Maia KobabeReasons: Banned, prosecuted, and banned for LGBTQIA+ content, and because it is considered a racist image.
- Lawn Child by Jonathan EvisonReasons: Banned and controversial for LGBTQIA+ identity and because it is considered sexual.
- Not all boys are Blue by George M. JohnsonReasons: Banned and banned for LGBTQIA+ content, defamation, and because it is considered sexual.
- From the Darkness by Ashley Hope PerezReasons: Banned, banned, or banned for showing violence or because it is considered sexual.
- The Hate You Give by Angie ThomasReasons: Prohibited and condemned for blasphemy, violence, and for the purpose of spreading a message against the police and recording a social issue.
- The true diary of a part-time Indian by Sherman AlexieReasons: Prohibited and prosecuted for defamation, defamation and use of derogatory language
- Me and Earl and the Dead Girl by Jesse AndrewsReasons: Banned and controversial because it was considered sexual and degrading to women
- The Blue Eye by Toni MorrisonReasons: Banned and controversial because it depicts child abuse and is considered sexually explicit.
- This Book is Gay by Juno DawsonReasons: Banned, sued, suspended, and banned for providing sex education and LGBTQIA+ information.
- Except for Magenta by Susan KuklinReasons: Banned and controversial for LGBTQIA+ identity and because it is considered sexual.