On Not Reading…

PupandHarryClose your eyes.  Imagine your favorite reading spot and your favorite books.  What sights do you see?  What sounds to you hear? What books do you read?

For me, I am curled up under a blanket.  I have my corgi snoozing near me and a fully charged Kindle and a stack of books near me.

Banned and Challenged Books

What are challenged or banned books?  They are books that someone thinks should be removed from libraries and classrooms for one reason or another.  People may object to offensive language, sexually explicit scenes, drug/alcohol use, or any of a wide range of things.

Courtesy CC License - mySAPL
Courtesy CC License – mySAPL

Should books be removed from libraries and classrooms because someone objects to them?  Absolutely not.  I believe that children and teens have the right to read books that connect with them, speak to them, or they enjoy.

I do think that families may have beliefs that conflict with a particular book.  I think that if parents feel strongly that their student shouldn’t read a particular book, we should work to accommodate that wish.  We also should help parents understand why we have selected a particular book for required reading.  (Don’t forget though, I don’t know that “required” reading should be assigned!)

The American Library Association has graciously but together this list of the top 10 challenged books of 2014.  From this list, I have only read The Kite Runner and A Stolen Life.  However, I’ve added quite a few to my To Be Read list including: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, And Tango Makes Three, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  These are all books that I have seen talked about on my classmate’s blogs and the kid-lit-o-sphere.


Did you know there is also a phenomenon that is quietly keeping books out of the hands of teens?  It is a phenomenon called self-censorship.  As discussed in this School Library Journal article, self-censorship is when English teachers and librarians do not read or buy books based on their content.  In effect, censoring what we read.  This, in turn, keeps books off of shelves and out of student hands.

Courtesy CC License - Nicola Albertini
Courtesy CC License – Nicola Albertini

Do I self-censor?  Absolutely.  I have my comfort zones and my stretch zones too.  There are types of books I won’t read because I typically dislike them or I am uncomfortable with their content.  That isn’t fair to my students.

How can I work to be sure that my students have every opportunity to find a book that speaks to them? That is where reading outside of my comfort zone comes in.  This amazing article explains why we should read outside our comfort zones – to make us better readers, better writers, and, most importantly, better teachers.

How To Fix It
Courtesy CC License - Tim Lang
Courtesy CC License – Tim Lang

What’s my plan?  I am starting this plan by looking at my comfort zones and my stretch zones.

My Comfort Zones:  mysteries, adventure stories with a mythological component, forensic mysteries, familiar tales told from another perspective, dystopia

My Stretch Zones:  books with a lot of cuss words for no reason, books with violence – especially sexual violence, sci-fi, paranormal

My Plan – I will continue throughout this semester to complete the Book Bingo challenge and read books that are diverse.  I do not want to read the same book twice.  I will go out of my way to choose books that I might not pick up otherwise.  Finally, I will get recommendations from my classmates (who rock, by the way)!

Do you self-censor?  How do you feel about banned books?  What should I read that is in (or outside of) my Stretch Zone?  Let’s talk below…


Wishlist Wednesday #2

Wishlist Wednesday

Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted over at Pen to Paper. This meme is where you showcase one book that is on your wishlist and that you can’t wait to get off your wishlist and into your hands.

This week’s Wishlist Wednesday is inspired by the latest round of book controversy on the internet.

SomeGrilsAreClimbing to the top of the social ladder is hard–falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High… until vicious rumors about her and her best friend’s boyfriend start going around. Now Regina’s been “frozen out” and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn’t come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend… if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don’t break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.  ~ Review Courtesy Amazon.com

Why am I itching to get hold of this one?

Part of it is the controversy.  Is it going to be that racy, or filled with adult material?  Or is it a case of adults overreacting?

Part of me wants to read it because I know that my students will read it.  I want to be able to have intelligent discussion with them about these difficult issues.

Part of me wants to read it because of my own curiosity.  If everyone says it is so bad/naughty/inappropriate, what is the big deal?

Those are my thoughts.  Have you read this one?  Would you recommend it?


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