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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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Supporting Children’s Rights to Read

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

A trans girl peers through the letter A in the name MelissaAs books in libraries and parts of school curriculum suddenly become hot button topics, it seems important to address censorship and book banning. The next four columns of WOW Currents will seek to make sense of this complicated, increasingly controversial issue. The first week we will discuss supporting children’s rights to read and intellectual freedom. The following week we will advocate for selecting books carefully versus banning or “stealth censorship.” In the third week’s column we will share suggestions and ideas for teachers in supporting the rights of youngsters to read. The fourth week we conclude our exploration of this important literacy issue by looking at how some communities have begun pushing back against the current waves of book challenges and banning. Continue reading

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MTYT: New Kid

Mary L. Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson, New Mexico State University, NM

During the month of April, Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson give their take on a range of award-winning children’s and YA books and honor books for 2020. In the first installment, Mary and Violet discuss New Kid written and illustrated by Jerry Craft. The graphic novel was the winner of the 2020 Newbery Medal and the 2020 Coretta Scott King Author Book Award.

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