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favorite banned books, according to educators and librarians

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The week of September 25th, we celebrate our RIGHT TO READ!  In celebration of Banned Books Week 2017, we asked several educators and librarians about their favorite banned books.  Here’s what they said.

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To Kill a Mockingbird has influenced me as a reader and a teacher. As a young reader it brought me into a world I knew nothing about. As a teacher it has opened the same door for hundreds of students. It is only controversial because it depicts an ugly truth- which is also its value. – (a Howard County high school English teacher)

“It depicts an ugly truth – which is also its value.” Agreed.  For my own part, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has had a similar impact for me, both as a teacher and as a reader.  Our literature is our history.  Regardless of genre, our literature reflects who we were, are, and could be.   I have always found myself drawn to those authors who have been willing to paint in honest brushstrokes, an image of humanity that requires taking stock in the complexities and contradictions, pressing us to face the mirror.  Often lost in the controversy surrounding “Huck” is the wink of hopefulness gained from the novel’s final passage. – (a Howard County middle school English teacher)

My daughter read Al Capone Does My Shirts last year as a 5th grader and it was her first experience of being “hooked” by a book and rushing to read the next book and the next in the series.  It totally changed her from being a reluctant reader to being someone who devours books!  Having taught it in the past I do not see why it would be controversial.  Many books have characters with huge flaws.  But having characters that possess both positive and negative qualities is what makes them multi-dimensional, interesting, and realistic. – (Howard County secondary literacy coach)

As a middle school teacher, I would have to choose The Giver and The Outsiders, two books that really touched kids and elicited deep and honest discussions. I loved teaching those books. – Beth S. (Howard County middle school English teacher)

Favorites to teach and/or read: Hunger Games, To Kill a Mockingbird, Fahrenheit 451, In Cold Blood, Leaves of Grass.  Favorites to read to my kids: And Tango Makes Three, The Paper Bag Princess, The Lorax, Where the Wild Things Are. – Amy P. (High School English teacher in Hudson, MA)

Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo and All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. Both novels are stories of the horror and dehumanizing effects of war (WWI, to be precise), and the relentless pursuit of an ill-defined victory at all costs. Reading these books in high school caused me to question a lot of the assumptions I had about politics, war, religion, and conflict more broadly defined than I had before. Or since, for that matter. They literally changed my outlook on life in a span of a few weeks, and I continue to wrestle with these ideas to this day. – Jeffrey M. (English Professor at Howard Community College)

And Tango Makes Three. My two children enjoyed this book when they were just 3-4 years old. It’s a book about penguins! But here’s the thing – now that my older son is 8 year old I am wondering how he might experience and “hear” the book today. That’s the thing about books (good books), right? They challenge us to these questions – and this book forces me to be thoughtful about how I would teach my children about family diversity and help them become accepting, welcoming people in the world. In the Night Kitchen was a gift from our friend and neighbor (Tim!) – of course the children just love that Mickey is naked – butt and penis and all – in the illustration and they giggle and laugh. But they also enjoy Mickey’s adventure. It’s fun. For my kids – who like to tell fart jokes all day long – this book delights them. And I’m really, really good with that. – Laura Y. (English Professor at Howard Community College)

Strega Nona is one of my favorite books of all times.  This book has been challenged and banned due to the magical or witch-like  abilities of a magic pasta pot.  Strega Nona’s objective is not to be a book about witchcraft, rather a book that is full of whimsy, allowing children to engage their imagination.  Challenging or banning books can stifle creativity and imagination.  When a book is challenged or banned because one person feels that it is against their morals, it can lead to an entire community of readers having restricted or no access to a book.  – Christina P. (Librarian at Howard Community College)

The Things They Carried: it challenges ideas of morality, truth, courage, and patriotism. I come from a military family (going back generations), so this really resonates with me. The narratives never stop feeling relevant. O’Brien creates a web of fiction, memoir, history, and memory that always ensnares us us readers, leaving us in the best possible state: uncertainty. That is where all good inquiry comes from. – Ryna M. (English Professor at Howard Community College)

It was much more banned in the past, but definitely The Handmaid’s Tale! Even when I read it in the 8th grade (?), I remember being shocked at the story–not because of content, but because of so many similarities and so much truth. I thought how not so unrealistic this society was, and I still think that now. – Sylvia L. (English Professor at Howard Community College)

For my kids… Hop on Pop!! This is such a great book to start children reading on their own. The simple rhyming text is perfect.
For me one of my favorite books growing up was Are you There God, It’s me Margaret. It’s one of the first books I could relate too.  – Melissa P. (Preschool teacher at the Children’s Learning Center)

 

 #BannedBooksWeek #RightToRead

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