- What books they have read
- What books they want to read
- Why they read
- Who writes these books...
- ... and why do they write them
- What messages/lessons we get out of reading books
- What freedoms to we have
- Why would you ban a book
- What does empathy mean
IT"S AMAZING! Watch this little video and you'll see...
- The Brother's Grimm & having women characters who are too smart
- Where the Wild Things Are & Max being too much of a rebel
- Harry Potter teaching about witchcraft
- Charlotte's Web featuring talking animals
- Wizard of Oz leading kids to believe in "good" witches
These are some of the more tame challenges, as I'm trying to keep it appropriate and foster a positive discussion among my elementary students. The 5th graders especially got into a lively discussion on the things you learn from reading some of these banned books including how to be a good friend (Charlotte's Web), the importance of truth (The Giver), being grateful for what you have (Wizard of Oz), and thinking beyond what we know is real (A Wrinkle in Time). My favorite discussion was about Harry Potter - hands down, my favorite book(s) ever. I started the series when Sorcerer's Stone came out; perfectly timed as I was in middle school and needed literary motivation. The series made me so excited to read with every new release and I learned some important lessons from those characters who became like friends to me. It's wonderful to get to discuss these books with my students who are just starting on their magical literary journey. One student today said that Harry Potter is important for kids to read because it "helps you open up your imagination and think about things different than real life." A girl followed up with a comment about Harry's parents dying before he can remember them, and how hard his life was as a result of their deaths. I was awed as the discussion headed towards a character analysis of Ron and his doting parents, Hermione's struggles with parents who are alive, but disconnected from "her world", and how having parents who are very involved like Draco's isn't always a positive thing. These are 5th graders. Powerful stuff they are getting from these books, considering the challenges to the series include:
- teaching that witchcraft is 'fun' rather than wicked
- Harry "lies, breaks rules, and disobeys authority figures, including the professors at Hogwarts," and that he ends up being rewarded and praised for his actions
- the content is too violent, scary and harsh for children
- themes that are too complex
Read more: Harry Potter Banned? | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/spot/banned-harry.html#ixzz3E61qhNZg
While I certainly respect the concerns of parents and community members on our student's reading appropriate material, I think the children should speak for themselves. They demonstrated today how they are able to see beyond the surface level of magic and wizardry, and see how the themes can be applied to their own lives. One of my favorite metaphors that I came across in my Masters courses is that censoring books in schools is like trying to teach a child to swim without letting them in the water. Kids need to learn to think for themselves, form valid opinions, and defend their actions. I
Below are some examples of book reviews my students wrote to celebrate their fREADom during Banned Books Week... some selected banned books, while others just wrote about one in particular that has special meaning to them. I will be adding more throughout the week, as well as more student commentary on this important discussion we're having in our school community!