Censoring Books?

Happy Monday everyone!

Today I’m sharing an article I wrote dealing with the issue of censorship in schools. Here’s the article.

Two books on this school’s summer reading list, Prep (Curtis Sittenfeld) and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (Tom Wolfe) were contested at a school board meeting by parents who called the material “pornographic” and “inappropriate,” among other things.

It turned into a pretty big deal, and tons of national groups got involved in the issue of constitutionality of banning these books. Also, to add fuel to the fire, the conversation erupted the week before National Banned Books Week! Some of the agencies that got involved were: National Coalition Against Censorship; American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; Association of American Publishers; Independent Book Publishers Association; National Council of Teachers of English; and PEN American Center.

Now, from covering the story for many more board meetings after the initial complaint, I became interested and rented Prep from the library. Personally, I didn’t think it was that horrible, especially compared to what’s on the radio, TV, magazines, etc. But I can see how, to an unsuspecting and naive tween, the content could be a little jarring. I’ve never read Wolfe’s book, but just from the title alone, I think it’s clear that the content may be a little controversial, which should have alerted parents from the start.

The district ended up taking the books of their optional summer reading lists, but the titles are both still available in the library (story about that resolution here).

Personally, I’m against any kind of censorship of literature. It’s a slippery slope from censoring one or two books here and there to eventually becoming a Fahrenheit 451 society. But I also understand that schools are have a responsibility to parents and can’t just ignore their voices. As someone with a background in education, I think the school’s resolution is a good compromise (students can still check the books out of the library).

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Book-less libraries?

BiblioTech

A drawing of what BiblioTech might look like.

This article is about a library in San Antonio, TX that won’t have any books.

What? A library without books? Blasphemy!!

However, this library is going to be a technological wonder. Yes, check out that picture over there – the Steve Jobs-inspired project will be an “eLibrary.” They’re calling it BiblioTech, a library that will only circulate eBooks. Members can rent eReaders, or bring their own devices to sync up with the library. In addition, there would be computer stations, tablets, and eReaders available for on-site use too.

So what do you think? A library without books. I don’t know about you all, but I loved going to the library in college and just wandering around in the stacks. I still love the library – at the rate I read books, it just doesn’t make financial sense to buy them. And there’s something about a physical book in my hands that I just get when I use my Nook.

But on the other hand, there would be no more waiting lists to check out new releases or books that have become popular. So no more of the disappointment that follows when I run into the library to get the next Gone novel or check out the latest Emily Giffin book!

Share your own thoughts on the BiblioTech in the comments!

Here’s the link one more time! http://news.yahoo.com/library-without-books-bibliotech-open-193118588–abc-news-tech.html

YA Fest (we need more of these)

Check it out. http://yafest.blogspot.com/

A Lehigh Valley library (in Easton, if you’re familiar with the area) is hosting the first Young Adult Fest to celebrate YA Fiction next Saturday, August 4. They’ve got about 30 area authors coming to sell and sign copies of their books, and they will be having panel discussions with the authors. The goal is to attract local kids toward libraries and reading.

I think this is wonderful. With my background in education, I know for a fact that kids don’t read anymore. I asked my students once how often they read books outside of school, and the responses I got?

“You mean read a book that I don’t have to read for school?”

“I don’t even read the book we’re reading now.”

“I have better things to do than reading.”

“People read books for fun?”

This is not an exaggeration, and believeĀ  me, their writing and test scores showed it. I made them read out loud every day by going up and down the rows in class, and you wouldn’t believe how many of these 15 year old students struggled to read materials that were at a 5th grade reading level (these were 9th and 10th graders).

It floors me because I was an avid reader in school. I love reading even now. More events like this YA Fest will help kids get interested in reading and writing again. I’m going to the event to check it out and maybe mingle with some of the authors, so I’ll post an update about it next weekend. If anyone in the blogosphere is in the area, I encourage you to attend as well!