Magazine article District Administration

Banned Books: Q&A with Librarian and Educator Pat R. Scales. (Language Arts)

Magazine article District Administration

Banned Books: Q&A with Librarian and Educator Pat R. Scales. (Language Arts)

Article excerpt

Q: Book censorship in the U.S. is on the rise. What factors contribute to this, and what risks does a teacher take when he or she uses banned books?

A: Book censorship has been occurring in public schools for years, but we now have a better way of tracking the cases. For this reason, it appears [to be] on the rise. Organized groups, from the left and the fight, have made book censorship their mission. They use the media, the Internet and the political arena to convey their message. Teachers feel at a risk because administrators pressure them to teach "safe" topics. But, there is no such thing as a "safe" topic. What offends one person may not offend another.

Q: What benefits make the challenges of teaching banned books worthwhile?

A: The primary reason is to nurture intellectual growth by sparking open and honest discussion. It is up to the teacher to help students learn to value literature of all genres. We cannot teach them to "think" without first allowing them to "see."

Q: How can introducing frequently banned books help students understand the U.S. Constitution? Why is this knowledge especially important since Sept. 11?

A: It is important to help students see that everyone's view counts. Tell them the issues that people have with these books, and engage them in open discussion. Every time we listen to a student's opinion, we practice the principles of intellectual freedom, a freedom granted to us by the First Amendment. In the wake of Sept. 11, we as Americans are at risk of losing many of our civil liberties in the name of security. Students must understand the Constitution before they can fully realize this threat.

Q: What strategies could educators use to introduce controversial books in the classroom?

A: Pre-reading activities or discussion should establish the context of the book. For example: Before reading Roil of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor, students should engage in a discussion about racism and bigotry that existed in the South in the 1930s, the setting of the book. They might also discuss current issues of racism. Keep to the context of the book, and then apply the themes and issues to life today. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.