BULLETIN BOARDS & DISPLAY : Banned Books Week 2015!

     *I'm posting this way after the fact, but don't judge me. Things get really hectic in a school library.*

I added this to my display this year, hoping for increased clarity on the issue. ;)

     Every year I struggle a little to make sure the students understand Banned Books Week as much as possible. I know some libraries call it "Intellectual Freedom Week," but usually that's partially for the sake of simplification, and partially because they shy away from anything that might sound controversial. I do NOT shy away from what might seem controversial, plus I like how arresting "Banned Books Week" sounds. It's SUPPOSED to get your attention because it's an important issue!
     But it also means you can't be lazy, because you'll probably be explaining the same things to your students all month. (No, we are NOT banning books, yes you MAY check out the books on display because we're celebrating the fact that they are available in OUR library, well- do YOU think one person or group should have the right to decide what YOU have access to and what you do NOT?  No, this doesn't mean I'm going to put Fifty Shades of Grey in our school library, etc...)

Several teachers created extra credit assignments based on the lists I sent out of Frequently Challenged and/or Banned Books that are available in our library. I thought that was really cool. :)

     Most of the stuff I put up this year is stuff I've already posted about, so I didn't post pictures of the old stuff. Instead, here is a link to a few older posts with display ideas for Banned Books Week.

BULLETIN BOARDS & DISPLAY : Banned Books Week 2013!

     This post is quite tardy. The library has been very busy. But better late than never, right? Banned Books Week 2013 was September 22-28. I had the library all decorated to support intellectual freedom, and I did presentations about censorship and intellectual freedom for 6 eighth grade English classes. They were all very attentive and polite, and had great questions and participation. Their teacher had them all check out books that had been either banned or challenged, which made for some interesting research coming up with about 200 titles that fit the bill and were currently available in our library.
     She gave them an assignment to read their challenged/banned book and take a stance on whether they agreed or not with the book being challenged or banned, and why. Of course she leaned heavily toward influencing them on the side of intellectual freedom.
     I really liked how the teacher made it very clear in her paperwork for the students that banning a book means removing it from an entire community so that NO ONE has access to it.
     I felt it was totally worth the effort on her part and my part. I loved that the teacher wanted to do such a thorough exploration of a subject that's near and dear to my heart. It gave me the opportunity to talk about my own personal experience with censorship. It's great to see teachers who recognize how important it is to teach kids about the issue, and make sure they understand all the complexities of it. It's not simple or easy.
     I ended up having some great conversations with students regarding the reasons (so-called and real) why some people try to ban certain books. Sometimes it was difficult to find the info, which was also a nice research challenge. ;)
     Here are some pics of what I put up in the library for Banned Books Week, 2013.

There's that comic I drew a billion years ago when I worked in the junior high library...

Detail of the "Library Key"

I like this poster.

I like this poster, too. Those robots are cute AND open-minded.
     "Think for Yourself and Let Others Do the Same" poster available from ALA HERE.

MOTHER GOOSE : racist bitch?

          While working in the junior high library about a decade ago, I happened to discover this tarnished gem called Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes, published in London in 1924, by Adam and Charles Black.  (I'll refrain from making an obvious joke about the publishers' last name, but you may do so if you wish)  I idly flipped through a few pages and luckily found the following illustration:
(Click to enlarge and read the charming caption)
          I think I probably said, "Oh, SHIT!" to myself, and took it straight to the Librarian.  But not before showing it to all of my teacher friends.  I think most people of my generation and older ones are familiar with the "Ten Little Indians" rhyme, which seems offensive enough by today's standards, but this may have been the precursor.  I wonder if it was changed from this version to the Indians version, to make it seem less offensive?  Or maybe there are various versions of this rhyme, one to offend everyone.  "Ten Little Homos" anyone?
It's just vile, right?  I mean, seriously.  WTF?
          Of course we immediately pulled it from the library's collection, and I do NOT feel bad about that.  Maybe I would have thought harder about whether or not to remove the book if it were found in a high school library, because older students would hopefully be mature enough to understand it in a historical context, and might even be able to use it in some kind of report on changing social perspectives or whatever.  But in the junior high library I think it would have the potential of hitting some poor kid like a punch to the gut.  Either that, or they'd read it and then punch ME in the gut, thinking I endorse that kind of thing.

          Apparently even way back in 1924 the Brits who published this book realized some of the content might be a little... edgy.  From the very last paragraph of L. Edna Walter's introduction:

                    If one or two of the rhymes strike a modern ear as
                    being somewhat crude, it must be remembered that they
                    are old, and it was felt that they ought not to be omitted
                    from so comprehensive an edition.


          BANNED BOOKS WEEK is September 26th - October 2nd.  I have a lot of cool stuff to display for it.  Last year it occurred to me that since I'm (unfortunately) in charge of lockers and combination locks, I might as well use some of the wayward locks in my displays, with an "Unlock Your Mind" theme.  I went a little nuts with it this year, and used copies of pictures of locks, blown up big, to form all the letters.  (The metal hook part was what I used for the letters.)  And I used a picture of a brain on pink paper to dot the "i" in "mind."  Isn't that adorable?
I was quite proud of this idea
          The bulletin board also included the dates (at first I put the 6 upside-down, but don't look at that!), a nice quote from Ben Franklin, and a bitchin' "Censorship causes blindness: READ!" poster.
The main bulletin board

Banned Books Week SIMPLIFIED
          I made this Banned Books Week comic strip when I was working at a junior high school with "less intellectual" students who needed a LOT more explaining before they began to grasp the concepts involved.  It was frequently painful (for us), but we just kept on trying, because it's important.
          In case you can't read the dialogue, it goes like this:

BOY:  I don' get it-- Are we banning books?!  Is that a good thing?!

GIRL:  No!  Banned Books Week is about exercising our FREEDOM to read.

GIRL (continued):  It's about CELEBRATING all the wonderful books that some people are trying to keep us from reading, just because they don't like the IDEAS expressed in them.

GIRL (won't shut up about it!):  Libraries believe in protecting INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM!

BOOK:  I'm just a lil' book with some BIG IDEAS!  Don't ban me just 'cause you don't agree with me!

GIRL:  Save the books!

BOY:  Read an "endangered" book today!

"Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself"
          In the circular glass display cabinet we displayed books from an American Library Association list of the most frequently challenged and/or banned books.  I scattered some opened padlocks on the shelves, and there are two signs on the back side, explaining the display.
          The first sign reads, "Some people are trying to keep you from reading these books...  These books have been challenged and/or banned from school and public libraries across the nation."
          And the second one says, "Celebrate your freedom to read!"
          The cabinet is unlocked, and I encourage students to check out any books they find interesting.

The Library Key!
          This is a close-up of my favorite part of the display, the "Library Key" which I made from clip-art and blue and chartreuse paper.  Isn't it fancy?!  It's symbolism, get it?  Because the LIBRARY is the KEY which unlocks your MIND.  Duuuude...

          I have one more (very wordy) hand-made poster about BBW, which I direct students to if I don't have time to explain it myself, or if I'm too frazzled and tongue-tied to be coherent about it.  I put it on red, white, and blue paper to make sure kids get the message that there's nothing un-American about intellectual freedom.  Here's the text of it, which I got mostly from the American Library Association, and paraphrased:


          Banned Books Week emphasizes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them.


          A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials.  Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove materials from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.

          The positive message of Banned Books Week:  Free People Read Freely is that due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.


"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are gone from here,
either write things worth reading,
or do things worth writing about."
-Benjamin Franklin
          I drew this angsty teenager last year, and I rather like him.  You can't see it in the hazy cell phone pic, but the book he's holding is titled "This And That," and the title visible in his backpack is "Crazy Stuff."  He's sort of based on Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" character as far as the hair, but the rest of him is pure slouchy rail-thin teenager.  I see lots of those.
          The quote I borrowed is from one of our morning bulletins last year.  I usually just roll my eyes at the "quote of the day," but I really liked this one.
          I'm gearing up for Banned Books Week next week, so all the other displays are about that.  We just did 7th grade library orientations, and I braced myself for the onslaught of questions.  Sure enough:
          "What is Banned Books Week?"
          "What does 'censorship' mean?"
          "Are we banning these books in OUR school?!"
          "Why do we celebrate Banned Books Week?"

          (More later on that...)