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Banned books?
Old 12-16-2017, 06:02 AM
 
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Are there any books at your school that you are not allowed to use or have in your library (either classroom or school library)? I'm in a public school so I'm curious mostly about that but would love to hear from those of you in private schools too. I guess I'm thinking that if you're at a private school (particularly a religious one) I'd assume that there'd be restrictions on certain books.
I ask because it came up at our school that our librarian removed all the Harry Potter books from the school library because during the course of a conversation outside of school our principal mentioned she personally doesn't like them. I was shocked that the librarian would then take them out of the library. I have used Harry Potter in my classroom. Sometimes I use it as a read aloud. Sometimes in a small guided reading group. I have it in my classroom (along with other books that involve "magic" like the Magic Tree House series or Secrets of Droon or Charlie Bone books or many others). I've certainly never made a secret of the fact that the books is in my classroom or that I've used it in instruction.


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Old 12-16-2017, 06:09 AM
 
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I teach at a private religious school and we have had so many books removed from the school library.... Harry Potter is out. Junie B. Jones is out because they don't like the way she talks/treats adults and others. Any book (which is most in the teen range) where there are any type of boy/girl relationships. Many of the Newberry award books because the subject matter is too deep/religious. They even banned Geronimo Stilton because of the pictures of the female mice. It is hard to find books to put in the library! If we could buy books from the time I was a kid they would all pass muster. At times I think they go too far - but I am only a teacher there who doesn't share their religion so I abide by what their wishes are. Too many books now are about topics that are relevant to today's society - but our school doesn't like them.
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Old 12-16-2017, 06:51 AM
 
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We don't have any that have been removed. We have a few that have been sent from our elementary school to one of the middle schools as it was decided that the content was a little too mature (even if it was written for middle levels).

We now have a new librarian and she purchased a copy of George and some of the teachers were very upset. But she feels like it's important to have books available with diversity. I support her fully! I was excited that she's willing to put books about LGBTQ in our elementary library as we've had a few students who would have loved to see themselves in books in the past.

Pernille Ripp has an amazing letter posted on her website that I've used in the past when parents have objected to books...

https://pernillesripp.com/2015/10/03...g-forms-i-use/
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Old 12-16-2017, 11:55 AM
 
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Is she an actual librarian (master's degree, proper credentials?). Often who ever works in the library is called a librarian even though they may not have the proper credentials (after all, anyone can do it - all we do is stamp due dates in books ). I cannot picture a professional librarian removing books because someone doesn't like them. I know some religious schools have objections, but they seem far and few (or maybe it just seems that way to me because there aren't many religious based schools in my area).

I was following a discussion in a library discussion board about school librarians being reluctant to buy biographies about Trump. The result of the conversation is that, yes, we purchase appropriate biographies on Trump, just as we do any other president because that's our job. The problem is finding one that is appropriate, especially at the elementary and middle school level (I have one on him, and Hillary Clinton, his is much more sparse than Hillary's).

The ALA has good advice about challenged and banned books. Every so often I get a complaint, maybe once a year, and I have a procedure that the person complaining must follow. It includes reading the whole book, documenting the problem areas and why they are a problem, and making suggestions for other books. As soon as I mention the procedure they back down. Lately it's been a student who is exploring her religious believes and is not aware that others don't share her beliefs (she's very immature, I've been helping her find books, her requirements keep changing). I have never had a formal challenge, a conversation is enough about why the book is in the library is enough.

I do feel bad for the students. The school library is for them, it's not the librarian's personal library. Books serve as mirrors, doors and windows to ourselves and the world, and it sounds like some of the students will not find books that relate to them or their experiences. They will be less prepared for life after school - they won't experience of experiencing different events, ideas, experiences, thoughts, emotions from different perspectives while in the safety of family and home.

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Old 12-16-2017, 12:29 PM
 
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Blcw, you make excellent points and have given me lots to think about.
As far as I know, the librarian is an actual librarian....I'm not sure though but I believe she has a library sciences degree.
My impression is that the principal was professing her personal opinion and is able---as far as I can tell---to separate her professional opinions (keep the books in the library as long as they are age appropriate because we are in a public school) from her personal opinion (which is she doesn't like book). I know the principal did not ask the librarian to remove the book, nor do I know that the principal has ever asked the librarian to ever remove a book. Maybe it's really the librarian that doesn't like it?
I agree with your last paragraph. It made me think....I agree. I wish I had more books in my classroom library than I currently have!!


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Old 12-17-2017, 12:29 PM
 
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We don't have any removed from the school library.

We even have a letter set home at the beginning of the year reminding parents (especially sixth grade parents who are out of the elementary setting for the first time) that our library has a books in a variety of reading levels and topics for varying levels of maturity and varying beliefs. It is their job as a parent to monitor the books their child reads, and if their child brings home a book they do not find acceptable, they are simply to return it to the library.

One year I had a parent who sent me a very nasty note because we had watched the first Harry Potter movie as part of our unit on epic literature. She objected because of the use of magic. She did not allow her children to read or watch anything related to Greek/Roman gods, magic, ghosts, etc.

The funny thing was that this was at the end of the school year (like last two weeks) and we had read so, so many other things with magic or ghosts. We had even completed a whole study of stories related to Greek, Roman, and Norse gods & goddesses. Hadn't heard a word from the parents until Harry Potter showed up.
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Old 12-17-2017, 02:38 PM
 
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Ima, 100% agree! I mean, I look at my own classroom library and consider the number of books in there that involve magic or ghosts of some kind. Magic Tree House. Edgar Allen Poe. Secrets of Droon. I mean, why not wipe out the entire fantasy/science fiction section of libraries to appeal to one section of the population? It's a slippery slope.
Since I posted the initial question, one of my teammates is having a freak out because a colleague and I are reading Harry Potter as a read aloud. Long story short, I told him that I refuse to run every book I read or own past admin.
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Old 12-17-2017, 02:50 PM
 
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The only thing I can think of at my school is that we're no longer able to do anything at all related to Christmas. Many primary teachers used Christmas-themed books (not religious, but focusing on secular Christmas themes) as part of their instruction during this time of year (we're at a school where 99% celebrate Christmas), and they were told to take them all home/rework their December units.

My mom taught at a private Christian school. She was required to provide alternate units of study/allow students to leave class for any book that a parent didn't approve of. I remember her being especially ticked one year when a parent wouldn't let her child participate in reading, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Even though the book has Christian themes that were discussed as part of the unit, the parent saw the word "witch" and wouldn't hear another word about it.
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