Thursday, September 27, 2012

A book challenge to celebrate Banned Book Week!

Perks of Being a Wallflower, (Chbosky) has been used in our 11th grade classes for years but two challenges this semester, this week, may drive it from the curriculum.

I am a strong supporter of parental involvement in student access to media of all kinds and of student awareness of the potential content of books, movies, songs and games they consume.  I believe teachers, even more than librarians, need to consider the content and tone of media assigned in their classes.  And yes, librarians should build collections to meet the needs of their audience, BUT . . . . .

While librarians should focus on their audience, the goal should not be to stifle, but to enlighten and expand.  For every book there is a reader and for every reader, a book.   In every audience there are varied interests and needs.  Inevitably, to support the interests or needs of one group will eventually offend another.  While librarians should attempt to fill shelves with books that will speak to all segments of our readership and even stretch beyond the limits where feasible, we should also be aware and sympathetic to the limitations and expectations of those readers we assist or guide in selection.

In the video below, John Green suggests that more often than not, what people find offensive in books is exactly what the book is actually arguing against.  I find this and the comments and Banned Book Choices of others being interviewed in this promotion for the BBW Virtual Read Out very interesting.

So, what are my thoughts about the challenges to Perks?  It has been a long time since I read the book.  I don't remember it being offensive beyond any literature that has been taught in schools for years.  That said, if a parent or student truly finds it offensive, I tend to support the opportunity to choose an alternate text.  I do wonder, in saying this, how those same parents and students react to discussions and readings in health classes or even social studies.  Luckily, it is not my job to guide people's thoughts or beliefs, but only to provide them with books that they can connect with in a way that others can also find books that fill their needs.

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