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Because children’s literature is used in schools, and by definition, read by and
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Because children’s literature is used in schools, and by definition, read by and to children, the potential for controversy and censorship is great. The American Library Association (ALA) maintains a list of the books that have been banned most frequently by libraries, as well as a national map depicting the locations of banned books (see bannedbooksweek.org for further resources). But in reality, censorship happens most frequently – albeit subtly – in classrooms by teachers. Some reasons for banning books include:
Sexual content or language
Religious or anti-religious themes
Offensive language (anything from “scrotum” to “nigger”)
Culturally offensive content
Atypical family configurations
Politically charged ideas
For this project, you will read a banned book (be sure you read it carefully – even if you read it a few years ago in high school). It may be one from the most recent ALA list, or any other book you know of that has been censored. (Quite a few have been mentioned in the readings you have done for class.) It can be a chapter book or a picture book. Consider and evaluate the arguments that have been made for censoring the book, and you be the judge: Should the book be made available for students in your (real or hypothetical) school? Why or why not? You should include specific evidence from the book. For example, if the book has been banned for “vulgar language” you should include specific examples from the book (including page numbers). If a picture has been deemed inappropriate for readers, you should include a photo of that page in your presentation, so we can see what the censors were referring to.
Create a video or PowerPoint presentation for your colleagues describing the book and the reasons it has been censored. Most people create a PowerPoint slideshow which they narrate via iMovie or Kaltura or some other tool. It is also possible to create a PowerPoint without the video portion if you type the information you would normally TELL us into the “Notes” field in the PowerPoint. The projects will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
The brief synopsis of the book is clear and coherent. If the viewer has not read the book, there is enough information here to get a good idea of what the book is about and how it is presented (including the intended readers/listeners).
Arguments for banning the book are presented clearly, including specific references to the school/library where the book was banned.
Arguments against banning the book – documented and/or hypothetical – are presented coherently.
Your own conclusion and rationale are clearly explained and supported by evidence.