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Pushing Back Against the Current Waves of Book Challenges and Banning

By Deanna Day, Washington State University, WA, and Barbara A. Ward, University of New Orleans, LA

Turtles swim around the title on a yellow background. Two of the turtles are not green, but rainbow colored.In this final blog post—our fourth on this topic—we discuss the current situation in states that seem to be leading the charge in challenging or banning children’s books. We also consider community members and libraries who are standing up and speaking out for the freedom to read.

States with Many Book Challenges

It’s not hard to see that there are great divisions in the world of book challenges and banning, and there are some unexpected consequences to the recent publicity surrounding increased book challenges. For instance, one town, Kalispell, Montana, won’t be celebrating Banned Book Week this year since the ImagineIF library trustees have determined that the event is too divisive. The Library Board members are concerned about the influence of the American Library Association on the annual event, thus choosing to forgo any involvement in the occasion. Banned Book Week, which celebrates the freedom to read, has been in existence since 1982. Continue reading

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What Do We Do?: Supporting Children’s Right To Read

By Deanna Day, Washington State University, WA, and Barbara A. Ward, University of New Orleans, LA

The silhouette of a young boy with short cropped curly hair. Red streaks go horizontally across the cover over the silhouette, resembling blood and the stripes in the United States flag.In this column we continue to explore recent trends in censorship and book banning by highlighting how authors feel about their books being challenged. Additionally, we offer some ideas for classroom teachers interested in supporting children’s rights to read by teaching about censorship and book banning.

It isn’t just teachers, librarians, and school board members who are put into the position of defending certain books. The recent attacks on books featuring certain types of stories have even had a chilling effect on the publishing industry, with some publishing houses shying away from topics that might be deemed controversial. Many authors of children’s and young adult books are finding themselves on the defensive because their books have drawn negative attention from parents and community members. Author Jason Reynolds, who has written a number of books that have been challenged such as Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You (2020), a remix of the adult title Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (2016) by Ibram X. Kendi and All American Boys (2015), cowritten with Brendan Kiely, emphasizes that limiting access to books limits kids’ curiosity and that banning books sends the message that kids shouldn’t ask questions. “Books don’t brainwash. They represent ideas,” he said. Continue reading

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Reaction to Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds from a Criminologist’s Point of View

By Trevor Brohard, Saundra D. Trujillo, and Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Using YA literature in the Criminal Justice field is a relatively new approach to exploring criminology theories. Saundra, a Criminology/Criminal Justice professor, and Mary, a Language, Literacy and Culture professor, implemented YA literature into Saundra’s Criminal Justice graduate course, Race, Crime and Justice, to learn if this unique approach could extend students’ thinking about various criminology theories as they applied the theories to YA literature.

This week’s WOW Currents features Trevor Brohard’s reaction to Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. Trevor uses a criminology/criminal justice lens to reflect on various criminology theories related to the intersections of race, ethnicity, crime, justice, cultural and structural contexts within the novel. Saundra and Mary reflect on Trevor’s reaction to close out this week’s post. Continue reading

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MTYT: Long Way Down

This month’s My Take/Your Take discussions focus on the 2018 American Library Association (ALA) award winners. Mary Fahrenbruck and Tracy Smiles continue with a discussion of the multi-awarding winning novel, Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. The novel, written in free verse poetry won the Newbery Honor Book Award, the Printz Honor Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Honor Award and numerous other awards from organizations other than ALA.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds Continue reading

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MTYT: All American Boys

By Marilyn Carpenter, Professor Emeritus, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA, Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, and Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely is a story that focuses on the relationship between Quinn, a white boy, and Rashad, an African American boy who is violently beaten by a white police officer. This week, we discuss the racial issues of this book and how they relate to society today. We will also discuss how bullying in this book compares to what we observed in The Hate U Give and Wolf Hollow.

Banner for My Take Your Take includes bibliographic information also available at the end of the post. Continue reading