It’s not too late to celebrate Banned Books Week with teens at your library! Here are some ideas to get teens thinking and talking about banned books:
- Create your own banned books booklist, or order the ALA Banned Books List 07-08. Display these booklists near your reference desk and encourage discussion. One classic exchange I had with a teen went like this: a teen approached the desk and casually glanced over at our Banned Books Week list. She asked, “What’s a banned book?” I explained. The teen’s face crinkled up and she asked, incredulously, “If people don’t like the books, why don’t they just not read them?” Great question! Off-the-cuff discussions at our reference desk, with both teens and their parents, have been the most rewarding way for me to inform patrons about banned books. You might also tuck these booklists into the challenged books that are sitting on your shelves, to create awareness among those teens who are hesitant to approach staff.
- Hold a banned books discussion. Choose one (or all) books from this year’s list and ask teens to discuss the specific reasons for challenges.
- Promote remotely! Use your blog, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, or library website to write a quick blurb about Banned Books Week. You can link to relevant websites such as The Comic Legal Defense Fund and AS IF!, or embed one of John Green’s Brotherhood 2.0 videos about book banning.
- Create a display. You can use YALSA booklists, such as those from Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, to guide you. As mentioned in a previous YALSA blog post, this is a committee not afraid to tackle controversial subjects.
- Hold a banned books reading. You can invite teens to bring their favorite banned books from a multitude of lists provided by ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.
- Look within. Is your Materials Consideration Policy up to date? You may want to look at what practices your library has in place to deal with material challenges. Check out YALSA’s Dealing with Challenges to Young Adult Materials page for resources. You may also want to have a look at the laws regarding privacy in your state, to help inform your policy process.
Happy Banned Books Week, everyone!
Current Chair, YALSA Intellectual Freedom Committee