I am fortunate to serve as chair of the STANDING COMMITTEE AGAINST CENSORSHIP of the National Council of Teachers of English. That means I often receive information about incidents of censorship. This has been a busy week thus far. One of our own members had her web site blocked from a school district due to political content. Laurie Halse Anderson, author of SPEAK and TWISTED, wrote about threee separate incidents of censorship on her blog. And Ellen Hopkins was un-invited to a school presentation when a parent complained about her books.
The one word that keeps resonating for me through all of this (and more) is ACCESS. When censors challenge materials and want them removed, they are in essence denying someone access to the thoughts and ideas contained at the web site or in the book or movie. Denying access creates limits for our students. One more venue of ideas shut down because someone deems the ideas somehow “wrong.”
How can we ensure access for our patrons? What can we do to erase limits? How about some of these approaches?
1. read one or more of the books counted among the most challenged this year or this past decade. AND TANGO MAKES THREE, THE CHOCOLATE WAR, SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK are among those listed at the OIF web site.
2. create a Banned Books Week display for your library.
3. make certain that you are familiar with your reconsideration policy.
4. volunteer to speak about censorship at a community event.
5. blog, tweet, post information about dealing with censorship.
Take a stand against censorship not just during Banned Books Week but all year long.