What an exciting time to be on the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee! Censorship, privacy, equity of access, diversity and information literacy are all hot button issues across the country. It might be fair to say this is a challenging time as well. At the ALA Midwinter Conference, this Committee considered how we might safeguard and promote the intellectual freedom of children despite the advent of a more conservative political environment.
To quote from my colleague Betsy Brainerd, an Early Literacy Librarian for the Arapahoe Libraries in Centennial, Colorado, and a fellow member of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC), in her ALSC IFC blog post from October 2016:
If you’re responsible for collection development, should you a buy a popular book with problematic content?
Does your library have difficulty obtaining diverse materials for your children’s collections? Don’t even know where to look? Help is at hand.
Do you use the classic display to highlight Banned Books Week?
Respect is a theme that kept popping up in my recent reading. I’m catching up on some middle-school fiction and dealing with demeaning, diminishing and disrespectful behavior from peers and adults is a motif that recurs over and over. Of course, it’s an issue that persists into the adult world. How people communicate on social media and in the comments section in traditional media has gotten lots of attention recently. Freedom of speech is easier to love if the speech isn’t directed at you.
Maybe you will never have anyone challenge or even question an item in your library. But if you’re like most of us, at some point someone will ask (nicely or not so nicely) whether something really belongs right there, where children can get at it. Are you ready to respond?
I’ve been looking for some recently published books that explain human rights to children. I was fortunate enough to come across That’s Not Fair!: Getting to Know Your Rights and Freedoms, written by Danielle S. McLaughlin, illustrated by Dharmali Patel of Little Blackstone Studios Inc. and published by Kids Can Press (www.kidscanpress.com). This new title is a part of the Citizen Kid Series (www.CitizenKidCentral.com) and is also based on a Canadian six-episode video series called “That’s Not Fair!” which was written and produced by the Canadian Civil Liberties Education Trust (www.thatsnotfair.ca). While this book and its animated series is based on Canadian rights, they still stand true when it comes to American rights. The CCLET’s premise is, “If your child is old enough to say, ‘That’s not fair!’, they are old enough to learn about their basic human rights.” Councilor Bug would like to welcome you to his city where…