Organizing a banned book club in your school or library could be a worthwhile way to introduce children’s books that have been challenged or banned, as well as to discuss titles that focus on banning. Both students and adults could read and learn about books that discuss banning. Below are some titles that could be read and discussed in a banned book club.
Banned Book by Jonah Winter and Gary Kelley (2023) describes a group of people called “We Are Right” or WAR that black out words in books because they consider them to be inappropriate for children. These warriors show up at school board meetings or local schools demanding that certain book titles are removed from libraries. Throughout the picture book there are phrases and words that are blacked out to show readers what the warriors are attacking. Even though a librarian stands up for the students’ rights to read these books, they are whisked away and thrown into the town landfill, a chilling prediction of a possible future for books deemed problematic in the future.
This Book is Banned by Raj Halder and Julia Patton (2023) humorously showcases what happens when censorship occurs in schools and libraries. Just because we don’t like something, such as giraffes or avocados, doesn’t mean that everyone feels the same and they should be banned. This would make a good read aloud for children to discuss how each of us has different beliefs and whether our beliefs should infringe on others. For example, if one child is scared of the big bad wolf, should the wolf be banned from books for all kids? If we continue to ban or reject books, our library and classroom shelves may eventually be empty.
Finally Seen by Kelly Yang (2023) After being separated from them for five years, Lina Gao is reunited with her parents and little sister in Los Angeles, but she experiences many challenges in moving from Beijing to the United States—learning to reconnect with her family, mispronouncing English words at school and classmates who bullies. Lina swallows her pride and keeps as quiet as possible about her fears and challenges. When a classmates’ parent tries to stop her teacher from reading aloud a diverse book, Lina realizes she must break her silence and courageously speak up in defense of the book since it has helped her adjust to her new life as an immigrant. Not only is Lina finally seen, but she is also finally heard.
Miles Morales Suspended: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds (2023) In this sequel, Miles Morales—a half-Black, half-Puerto Rican Spiderman, is in school suspension for disagreeing with his history teacher. A once-boring day turns into a battle for Miles because he fights with a termite that is trying to destroy all of the books about people of color and erase their history. This title contains a mixture of verse, narrative and illustrations making it an adventurous read.
Today’s blog post was written by Deanna Day, a literacy professor at Washington State University in Vancouver, Washington.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.