Challenged Books

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by meredithteaches, Oct 31, 2008.

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How do you feel about banning books in school based on objectionable content?

  1. Books should never be banned in schools.

    6 vote(s)
    18.8%
  2. Students should be allowed to opt out of certain books, but the books should not be banned

    24 vote(s)
    75.0%
  3. If a large sector of the community finds the book objectionable, a book should be banned

    2 vote(s)
    6.3%
  4. Controversial material has no place in school reading.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. meredithteaches

    meredithteaches New Member

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    Oct 31, 2008

    Our school is currently experiencing a challenged to one of the books we offer in the 9th grade curriculum -- The Chocolate War. Has anyone had any experience with challenged or banned books or specifically The Chocolate War? I'd some to have some help in talking to the school board and our administration about other schools who teach controversial material, esp. this novel. Let me know if you can help!

    Meredith
     
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  3. eman_ekaf

    eman_ekaf Rookie

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    Oct 31, 2008

    Now, I've not yet read The Chocolate War, but I have an opinion on banning books. Why ban a book? Books are literature, and literature is enriching. It's a way for kids to learn about the controversial issues, and at the same time discuss the good and bad sides of the issues. It's a learning experience, and honestly, they learn far worse things from television and the internet.
     
  4. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I mostly agree with not banning books in school -- but I think some books are not appropriate for high school, and obviously should not be included. I mean, material that is considered adult in nature (soft porn) etc shouldn't be purchased for a high school library. I guess where I have the problem is "who decides what is acceptable and what isn't?"

    I totally voted for "Students should be allowed to opt out of certain books, but the books should not be banned." but I also remember in high school we had Mein Kampf (I probably mispelled that) and a book that claimed the Holocaust was a hoax and that it never happened. I thought both of those books where highly inappropriate for a high school. There is just part of me that doesn't think those books are appropriate, but then again, who am I to judge?

    What a thought-provoking subject.
     
  5. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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  6. resourcestress

    resourcestress Rookie

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    Oct 31, 2008

    Our school district has allowed The Chocolate War and it is on the summer reading list for students. I have read it and I'm vague on some of the details. It's about an all boys catholic school that sells chocolate every year to raise money. Each student is expected to sell a certain amount. One student decides to not sell the candy. Seems like there was the click that would beat up students that wouldn't sell and, if I remember right, the administration knew but did nothing to prevent it because that was the main revenue for the school.
     
  7. forchange

    forchange Rookie

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    Nov 1, 2008

    I don't understand the objection to The Chocolate Wars and I've read it. It's in my 7th grade library, although we don't read it as a class. I do read the Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and I suspect that only in my school would I ever be allowed to do so. I feel really strongly that in order for reading to be a viable alternative to video games and TV, adults need to get real about what kids are already being exposed to. Judy Moody just doesn't hold the interest of kids who play watch Family Guy

    I teach in a predominantly black city and predominantly black school and many of my students read urban novels. I allow it, but I have not been able to bring myself to purchase them for my library because I can't even get past most of the covers and titles, which are blatantly sexist. However, I realize that my students will receive sexist messages throughout their lives and I can't prevent that. My job, as I see it, is to give them the tools to critique and challenge what they read and view. My job also is to encourage students to read, because through reading they will one day grow out of bad books and they will someday be exposed to ideas that challenge those books.

    Mein Kampf makes me uncomfortable too, but it's a book and I have every right to buy dozens of books about the Holocaust to combat that one book. I can't make the ideas go away by banning the books, so I'd rather deal with them head on. Having said that I will not spend my own money to put sexist or racist or anti-semitic books in my library.

    Maybe you can teach Fahrenheit 451 instead of The Chocolate Wars...

    There's also an interesting book compiled by Judy Blume (who has been banned a bunch) of short stories by young -adult authors of banned books called Places I Never Meant to Be.
     
  8. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Nov 1, 2008

    I didn't vote because I don't think students should be able to opt out of books...that job belongs to the parents. Yes, there is some responsibility to purchase books that are appropriate for the age level of the school, but that is a vauge discription. I would rather err on the side of having too many books than not enough, and let the parents sign forms to disallow their children from reading certain books. I don't think books should be banned at all.
     
  9. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I remember back to when I was in 9th grade (which was the last year of junior high, back then...) I had read absolutely everything on our school's approved book list. (I was an avid reader.) The teacher said I could choose my own book. She didn't say anything about getting it approved first -- just to choose another book.

    I was a terrible student, but read an extremely good reader. (In 2nd grade I was tested up to a 12th grade reading level, and got a perfect score....) Reading was the one thing I was really good at -- and I read all the time.

    A friend loaned me a book that was.. uhm.. how shall I say this?...full of adult themes. It included white slavery, homosexuality, mild sado-masocism, human breeding, trafficking babies, etc. etc. etc. I was enthralled by a book, the likes of which I had never seen!

    Imagine my teacher's surprise when I turned in the rough draft of my oral book report! She said I could not use that book for a book report. She sent a scathing note home to my parents saying she was sure they didn't have any idea what I was reading and that she knew they wouldn't approve.

    To this day, I remember my father's response. He thumbed through the book. Then he wrote the note and handed it to me to read before he put it in the envelope.

    He said he agreed this was not the type of book he would have thought I'd choose to read, but that he was just glad I had done my reading assignment, and that he refused to censor what I read. He told her that if she hadn't said it had to be approved first, she could hardly complain later. He also said he would understand if she'd prefer I do the oral report privately since it wasn't a topic that was appropriate for 9th grade students to hear. He also said he suggested in the future she might want to specify that books need to be approved first. Then he thanked her for caring and wanting the best for me.

    His letter and support made a huge impression on me. I felt very empowered. I never felt the need to read another book like that, but he refused to let someone make me feel guilty for wanting to read something new and different.

    I think that is why I have a hard time with the subject of banning books. I don't think ideas should be banned, but I do think common sense needs to be used as to the age-appropriateness of certain topics.
     
  10. forchange

    forchange Rookie

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    What a great story. It sounds like you have a great dad.
     
  11. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Nov 2, 2008

    The only book we ever had a real issue with in our school was "Addicted" by Zane. Our very liberal librarian had purchased it for the library, and it was being checked out like hotcakes. The kids were passing it around and it was THE hot book. Then a kid had me read part of it and I figured out why. It's basically soft porn with really very little story line or literary merit. Finally a parent complained and they reviewed the book and opted to take it out of the library. However, it was never banned. If a kid wanted to read it independently, that was fine.
     
  12. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Nov 2, 2008

    It surprises me, personally, that a book like The Chocolate War is objectionable and Native Son by Richard Wright was on the required reading list when I was in ninth grade- and I have no idea whether people objected to it after that. However, I was flipping out when I read it- it was so much heavy reading because of how the author specifically described all the gory details of what had taken place.
     
  13. forchange

    forchange Rookie

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    My sister bought and hid Harlequin Romance novels (which are also soft porn) in middle school. She ended up with quite a collection. She is now married to the only man she has ever kissed and teaches 2nd grade -- straight edge to a fault. Hormonal kids will always read soft porn to try to figure out sex; it doesn't mean they'll end up having sex because they read about it. I would NEVER teach such a book and I will not BUY it for my library, but I'm also not going to let kids see me get worked up about it, it will just make it all that more appealing.
     
  14. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Nov 2, 2008

    With some books, it is just the themes I worry about. As a child, I found Lord of the Flies deeply disturbing. I felt tramautized after reading it. I would never, as a teacher, assign that book simply because of the way I reacted to it as a young teen.

    Do I think the book should be banned? Of course not. Most would argue that it is a great literature. But you won't find me teaching it.
     
  15. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Nov 2, 2008

    Ditto! Lord of the Flies tore me up as a child, but I wouldn't stop others from reading it. As a teacher, I wouldn't teach it because I don't want to re-read it - even 30 years later!
     
  16. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    Nov 2, 2008

    Oddly enough I was just having his conversation with my mother-in-law. It happens that my niece’s 4th grade class is reading Harry Potter together. I would have thought that parents would have objected.

    I agree with an earlier post that it should be the parent's right to opt out of reading a certain book, not the student.
     
  17. forchange

    forchange Rookie

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    On what grounds would parents object to Harry Potter? It's a bit challenging for 4th grade, but what great literature!
     
  18. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Most people who object to it object because of it having witches and warlocks, witchcraft and sorcery, and sort of glamorizing it.
     
  19. forchange

    forchange Rookie

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    So essentially all fantasy books would be off-limits? This boggles my mind. You know, I'm not a Christian and I get that the Narnia series is all about the story of Christ, but I also know that it's well written literature with a lot of positive messages. The same goes for Harry Potter. He's a boy/teen who relies on his friends and adult mentors and fights evil. What's wrong with that? The objection is that it takes place in a fantastical world that any second grader knows bears no similarity to our "real" world? Real world practitioners of Wicca aren't even close to the broomstick owning, pointing hat wearing witches and wizards in Harry Potter.
     
  20. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    The amusing thing about people objecting to Harry Potter is that the Narnia series has just as much magic and wizardry in it, yet that's accepted as "christian". If you really read Harry Potter, the Christian themes running through it are astounding.
     
  21. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    As a young Jewish kid, I read the Narnia series many times (LW&W was my all time favorite book) and it didn't turn me into a Christian.
    It's just as unlikely the Potter books will turn kids to Wiccans.

    Even if the kids did give Witchcraft a try ... they'd soon be disappointed to find that there is no such thing as magic spells or other fantasy elements in the Potter series.
     

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