Friday, February 27, 2015

Video Friday

(Picture adapted from jamona_cl on flicker)

iPod Friday

VIDEO Friday

This week I am changing things up a bit in honor of   FREEDOM TO READ week.  

Please enjoy this video and pass along it's important message.

Dave Pilkey on Banned Books

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Challenged in Canada: Children and Teen Books

The following are titles that my libraries carry. While there has been discussion by staff and a few parents about the appropriateness of their content, I am happy to report that none have been formally challenged in my schools. 
(titles and information selected from


Asha's Mums
Written by Rosamund Elwin and Michele Paulse

Asha is excited about the upcoming school trip to the Science Centre. However, when her teacher Ms. Samuels tells her that her permission form is filled out incorrectly, she faces not being able to go on the trip. When Asha explains that both of her mums signed the form, Ms. Samuels argues that "you can't have two mums."
Objection: depicts same-sex parents to elementary aged children.

Thomas' Snowsuit
Written by Robert Munsch

Thomas refuses to wear his new snowsuit despite the pleas of his mother, his teacher, and even his principal. When everyone’s best efforts lead only to comedic chaos, they all agree it’s best to let Thomas suit himself.
Objection: claim that the story undermines the authority of "all school principals"

Matthew and the Midnight Flood
Written by Allen Morgan

A plumber saves the city from disaster after Matthew awakes at midnight to find water right up to his windowsill!
Objection: story depicts a stranger visiting a boy's bedroom at night and convincing the boy to leave with him.


The King's Daughter
Written by Suzanne Martel; Translated by David Homel and Margaret Rose

Jeanne Chatel has always dreamed of adventure. So when the 18-year-old orphan is summoned to sail from France to the wilds of North America to become a king's daughter and marry a French settler, she doesn't hesitate. However, her new husband is not the dashing military man she has dreamed of, but a trapper with two small children who lives in a small cabin in the woods. 
Objectiondescribes natives from the perspective of a scared young immigrant who has yet to overcome her prejudice (note that a reprinting of the novel had the offending passages deleted or modified, reportedly without the consent of the author)

Trouble on Tarragon Island
Written by Nikki Tate
Image result for trouble on tarragon island
Heather Blake is horrified when her grandmother gets involved with the Ladies of the Forest, a radical group of protesters willing to do just about anything to save a stand of old-growth trees from the loggers' chainsaws. When the Ladies make a calendar, semi-nude photos of Granny and her friends hang on just about every fridge on Tarragon Island. Things get even worse when protesters get arrested and tempers flare.
Objection: Bullying, anti-logging support, use of the word "bazoongas"

Underground to Canada
Written by Barbara Smucker
Image result for underground to canada barbara smucker
Ripped from her mother by slave traders, Julilly yearns to be free. She and her friend Liza dream of escaping to Canada, the ‘Promised Land’ of freedom. So when the Underground Railroad offers to help them escape, they are ready. But slave catchers are also ready to relentlessly pursue them. Includes an introduction by Lawrence Hill.
Objectiondepictions of black people and the use of the word “nigger”


Who Is Frances Rain?
Written by Margaret Buffie

A vacation at her grandmother's cottage is the highlight of Lizzie's year, but this summer the whole family is going. To escape the bickering, Lizzie explores a nearby island and finds a pair of glasses. When she tries them on she finds herself watching two women from the past.
Objection—The words “hell” and “bastard” made the book unsuitable for 10-to-13-yearolds.

The Shepherd's Granddaughter
Written by Anne Laurel Carter

Amani's family home in Palestine is being threatened by encroaching Jewish settlements. As she struggles to find increasingly rare grazing land for her starving sheep, her uncle and brother are tempted to take a more militant stance against the settlers.
Objection: claim that it contained anti-Israeli propaganda.

When Everything Feels Like the Movies
Written by Raziel Reid

Inspired by a true story, this is an edgy, extravagant novel for young people, full of gender-bending teen glamour, dark mischief, and enough melodrama to incite the paparazzi. A boy who smells like Chanel Mademoiselle, calls Blair Waldorf his biggest childhood influence, and reads Old Hollywood star biographies like gospel doesn't have the easiest path to travel in life, but somehow, Jude paves his own yellow brick road and makes us all wish we could join him over the rainbow.
Objection: use of language; Sexual content described as vulgar and gratuitous (including an incestuous sexual fantasy); inappropriate for young adult audience


Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak
Written by Deborah Ellis

Children on both sides of the Middle East conflict tell their stories. The text includes background information, photographs, a map, a glossary and suggestions for further reading.

Objection: In Ontario, the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) said that Ellis had provided a flawed historical introduction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; also said that some children in the book portrayed Israeli soldiers as brutal, expressed ethnic hatred and glorified suicide bombing resulting in a “toxic.” affect on young readers.  In 2006 at least five school boards pulled or placed restrictions on this title.

13 Authors Speak Out

In honor of Freedom To Read Week, watch these thirteen writers weigh in on book banning, and celebrate your freedom to read!

"I can't imagine there's a writer out there who is in favor of banning books," says author David Handler.

Handler's sentiments are echoed by fellow writers Mark Rowlands, Sue Harrison, Brian Garfield, Walter Mosley, Joseph Olshan, Patricia MacLachlan, Elana Dykewomon, Fred Bowen, Jonathan Carroll, Joseph Caldwell, and Steve Erickson.

Censorship: The Enemy of Truth

Bill Moyers on Banned Books Week from on Vimeo.

Kids and curiosity go together. Sometimes the books that challenge the minds of children the most are the books that some people feel are inappropriate for them. Children are thinkers, and they can only grow if we give them the opportunity to read all types of literature.

It's important for each parent to decide what's appropriate for their child to read. Unfortunately, removal of books and other library resources based on the objections of a few restricts access for everyone. Libraries must provide resources for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Authors on Banning Books

"I want to congratulate librarians...who have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves"      -Kurt Vonnegut                                                         

“A word to the unwise.
Torch every book.
Char every page.
Burn every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear.” 
― Ellen Hopkins

“Something will be offensive to someone in every book, so you've got to fight it.” ― Judy Blume


Given that this is Freedom to Read Week,  today we are going to look at the meaning of the word Censorship.

One would think it would be an easy definition, after all, we know what censorship is, right?

Censor: One who supervises conduct and morals: as a) an official who examines materials (as publications or films) for objectionable matter; b) an official (as in time of war) who reads communications (as letters) and deletes material considered harmful to the interests of his organization. Censorship: The institution, system or practice of censoring; the actions or practices of censors; esp : censorial control exercised repressively.
--Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

In general, censorship of books is a supervision of the press in order to prevent any abuse of it. In this sense, every lawful authority, whose duty it is to protect its subjects from the ravages of a pernicious press, has the right of exercising censorship of books.
--The Catholic Encyclopedia (a publication of the Catholic Church)

For the ALA, technically censorship means the "The Removal of material from open access by government authority." The ALA also distinguishes various levels of incidents in respect to materials in a library which may or may not lead to censorship: Inquiry, Expression of Concern, Complaint, Attack, and Censorship.
--The American Library Association


Censorship is a word of many meanings. In its broadest sense it refers to suppression of information, ideas, or artistic expression by anyone, whether government officials, church authorities, private pressure groups, or speakers, writers, and artists themselves. It may take place at any point in time, whether before an utterance occurs, prior to its widespread circulation, or by punishment of communicators after dissemination of their messages, so as to deter others from like expression. In its narrower, more legalistic sense, censorship means only the prevention by official government action of the circulation of messages already produced. Thus writers who "censor" themselves before putting words on paper, for fear of failing to sell their work, are not engaging in censorship in this narrower sense, nor are those who boycott sponsors of disliked television shows.
--Academic American Encyclopedia

Censorship: supervision and control of the information and ideas circulated within a society. In modern times, censorship refers to the examination of media including books, periodicals, plays, motion pictures, and television and radio programs for the purpose of altering or suppressing parts thought to be offensive. The offensive material may be considered immoral or obscene, heretical or blasphemous, seditious or treasonable, or injurious to the national security.
--Encarta Encyclopedia


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Freedom to Read Week: Judy Blume

Judy Blume has written books that have spoken to adolescents for decades, and done so in a way no one else will.  Tackling subject deemed embarrassing, awkward and even taboo, Blume's books opened a line of communication for many pre-teens and young teens, and let them know that they were not alone.  Because she wrote about such forbidden topics as menstruation, body changes in puberty, sexuality, and religion, her books have been banned and challenged in schools and libraries across the world.  

"Censorship grows out of fear and, because fear is contagious, some parents are easily swayed. Book banning satisfies their need to feel in control of their children’s lives. This fear is often disguised as moral outrage. They want to believe that if their children do not read about it, their children will not know about it. And if they do not know about it, it will not happen."

-Judy Blume

Judy Blume speaks on censoring books.

Makers has an interview with Blume on the reason given when her book, Are you There God? It's Me, Margaret was banned in her children's school.  Find it through this link to the Makers page.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Freedom to Read Week: Author Markus Zusak on Books

What is special about books?  What does reading novels teach us? 

 Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief, talks  about the importance of books and the freedom to read what we want.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

iPod Friday

(Picture adapted from jamona_cl on flicker)

At the end of the week I give myself a treat and listen to my iPod at work while processing books or working on the database.   These are my picks for today.                          What do you listen to at work?

Huckleberry - Song for Banned Books Week

Huckleberry (©2008 Keith Lewis & Carl Walker)


Don't take away Tom Sawyer
or Injun Joe and Runaway Jim
Don't take Huckleberry Finn

Don't hide away John Steinbeck
Don't throw away Shel Silverstein
Don't take Huckleberry Finn

Where's Waldo - I can't find him
Kurt Vonnegut or R. L. Stein
Don't take Huckleberry Finn

Don't it seem absurd
To Kill a Mockingbird
as if reading was a sin
Don't take Huckleberry Finn

Christine and a dog named Cujo
Outsiders and a Catcher in the Rye
Don't take Huckleberry Finn

Come on let me read about Charlie
Who brought Flowers for Algernon
Don't take Huckleberry Finn


Look for A Light In The Attic
It could be a Brave New World
Don't take Huckleberry Finn

Go Ask Alice In The Night Kitchen
'bout the best laid plans Of Mice and Men
Don't take Huckleberry Finn


Scary Stories - I want to read them
I get Goosebumps when I read about those things
Don't take Huckleberry Finn

Don't take away Tom Sawyer
or Injun Joe and Runaway Jim
Don't take Huckleberry Finn

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Murder of Knowledge (abridged)

Note: This is an abridged version of the article by Adam Lancaster on the  Reading Educator Blog. Read the whole article here.

Knowledge, over the years, seemed to have lost its original meaning or has at least been lost in translation, especially since the dawning of the internet and the world wide web. One cannot just be granted knowledge but that there must be a certain amount of work and graft in a formalized setting. It is this that seems to have be lost since the invention of the internet.

Knowledge is now touted as the thing that is easily and readily accessible at the end of one’s fingertips and via a whole host of devices such as phones, tablets and computers. Knowledge is there for the taking. However we must not get confused with the differences between the idea of knowledge and with information.   Information comes at us from all sorts of places and the internet is just one of those. There are endless reams of information that enter our lives on daily, hourly basis but this does not result in knowledge.

The kinds of information that schools are looking for is specific. In the bigger picture of information what schools require is just a drop in the ocean and this is the problem. If there is so much information and a student just requires a minuscule amount of that information how are they able to reach it succinctly and successful? The answer is of course with the aid of a guide ... who is able to arm the student with the relevant skills to enable them but also someone to help filter out a lot of information that just isn't needed.

Libraries and librarians. We need to trust the skills and knowledge of the librarians and we need to make sure these skills are utilized when analyzing curriculum needs and looking at resourcing subjects. They need to be part of design of schools and the fabric of learning just as the classroom teacher and senior leadership are.
The curriculum does not need the internet but with some taming and an understanding of where and how it can be used to enhance learning and improve processes, the internet can be a useful tool for all of us. So let’s use the people that can already do this in schools, the school librarian.