Even though Banned Books Week has officially passed, you don’t have to restrict talking about censorship to just one week of the school year. In fact, I would encourage you to discuss censorship and why books might be challenged throughout the school year, not just for a week in September. I actually like to keep banned books on permanent display in my eighth grade classroom. Since my students choose 95% of what they read for my class, I believe constantly keeping the idea of challenging books and their content in a prominent place in my class helps students to think critically about what they are reading.
The first thing students see as they enter or exit my class…or even just walk by my room since my door is almost always open…is that I have a big “Banned Books” poster on my door. It lists a dozen or so books–mostly classics–that have been challenged and/or banned somewhere. Students eyes get wide when they realize that they have already read books on the list like Harry Potter and Bridge to Terabithia. The next question becomes, “Wait? We are not supposed to read those books?!?” This opens the door for us to discuss what being “banned” means and to talk about why someone would challenge a book. We also talk about how none of the books on the poster are banned in our district and that, in fact, we teach quite a few of them in class.
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