By Deanna Day, Washington State University, WA, and Barbara A. Ward, University of New Orleans, LA
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
By Charlene Klassen Endrizzi, Westminster College, PA
Jonah Winter is an award-winning author of more than 40 picture books who currently resides in Pennsylvania, a state in which more than 450 books were banned in 2022, including Winter’s biography, Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx (2009). Book-banning is in the news these days, and another book by Winter made the news in Spring 2023 when it was banned in Duval County, Florida–his biography, Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates (2002). Speaking of Florida (second only to Texas in book banning), Winter’s biography Hillary (2016) was banned from two schools in Miami where he was scheduled to visit on his book tour in 2016. At each school, the principals prevented him from presenting his book. Continue reading
by Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas
As we realize, music has been part of mankind’s history since its beginning. The 2019 published books shared here reflect only a few of the ways it has been woven into lives but can encourage readers to seek instances across genre. Broadway is known as the place where music and story intersect in powerful ways and the voices of Broadway impact how these stories are told. A Is for Audra, written by John Robert Allman and illustrated by Peter Emmerich, informs readers about leading ladies who have performed through song, dance and drama on some of the world’s most important stages. With an A-to-Z format, this book celebrates women of Broadway and their noted roles. There have also been biographies of musicians during 2019 that reveal music’s significance in their lives and, thus, their impact in bringing varied music to others. Guitar Genius: How Les Paul Engineered the Solid-Body Electric Guitar and Rocked the World, written by Kim Tomsic and illustrated by Brett Helquist, speaks to invention as well as music. Elvis is King! by Jonah Winter relates details of Elvis’s life with 3-dimensional, hand-built and photographed illustrations by Red Nose Studio. Continue reading
Many layers of idiosyncrasies lie within the books that allow readers to explore the cultural complexities of the Puerto Rican experience. This week, My Take/Your Take looks at the role of women in Puerto Rican culture as evident through a contemporary, well-known role model in Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx and a quieter, equally crucial role model in Grandma’s Records.
This July, René Picó and Charlene Klassen Endrizzi delve into the cultural complexities of the Puerto Rican experience. The books are selected to allow readers to uncover more layers of idiosyncrasies. We want to reveal how Puerto Rico “is a human archipelago… self-assertive, puzzling and contradictory.”