Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Banned Books Display...Banned

This is a new one. A banned books display...has been banned. Why? Because it might encourage kids to read controversial books.

A display at Harrisonburg High School of books that have, at some point in history, either been banned or challenged was ordered removed last month by Harrisonburg Schools Superintendent Donald Ford.

The display, which Ford ordered removed Sept. 27, was part of the American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week, the last week of September.

Ford said he was concerned the school division would encourage students to read banned books because they are on a controversial list and not because of their content.

The high school library has participated in at least the past two Banned Books Week, said librarian Elsie Garber, who is in her third year at the library.

Garber would not comment on the display, other than to say it included several books. School administrators would not release a complete list of the books in the display.

However, High School Principal Irene Reynolds recalled that the titles included "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," by Mark Twain; "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury; "The Diary of Ann Frank," and "The Bible."

The American Library Association has held Banned Book Week since 1982.

According to its Web site, the ALA’s banned book week celebrates freedom to choose or to express an opinion that otherwise might be considered unorthodox or unpopular.

"After all," the site said, "intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met."

The high school library display, Ford said, seemed to entice students into reading the books because they are on a list.

"We are not going to send a message to kids encouraging them to read ‘banned’ books. Our message should be to read books, a wide variety of books.
Okay, this one makes my head hurt. Educating students about book-related controversies, including efforts to ban books, is a bad thing? In whose educational universe?

These are the sorts of stories that totally make me think that the United States is the Roman Empire about three years before the start of the fall. Please let us wake up in time.

2 Comments:

Blogger Kelly Fineman said...

Perhaps the Superintendent should start a new movement to ban banned books week. He's right that books should be read for their content, but that's sort of the point as to why we recognize banned books week in the first place.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:13 PM  

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