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    banned books
    By Cathy-Dee

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    This is always a controversial subject. While I do not totally agree with banning books, as teachers we do have some responsibility to ensure that the books we are using are acceptable. And often we do not see eye to eye on which books are acceptable and which are not. Obviously a book about sex and graphic, or books with extreme violence, etc., would rarely if ever be found in a school library or classroom. This is the extreme scenario, but I would have no problem having these books banned from being in a school. We censor the internet and other things as well, this is part of our duty to protect children from things that they are not ready to learn about and will not understand.

    However books that may go against a population's belief system are often "controversial" and yes even banned at times. Not necessarily religious beliefs either, sometimes it has to do with gender, race, etc., Whether these people are right or wrong does not really matter. What does matter is that they have the right to question what their children are learning and exposed to. If for some reason they feel that the books will be more harmful than helpful, then they do have the right to express this, even if we do not agree with them.

    Now should a teacher choose not to use Harry Potter books for one parent - I guess a lot depends on the support the teacher would have from their administration. Personally I do not believe very many books warrant an all out confrontation with a parent. There are so many excellent books out there, one can always put a series on the shelf for a year and do something else.
    And as far as fighting the entire system - I wouldn't even begin to try. We've had books banned (or at least strongly discouraged) in our districts only about 10 years ago. This was a set of readers, most were fine, but the series for grade 4 did have some stories that bordered on acceptability. Rather than fight all the parents who were up in arms the school boards chose to go with other reading series.

    I know we sometimes get angry when parents make these demands. BUT... these are their children, we have to respect the right of parents to make some choices as to what their children can be exposed to. I also know that if we want to persuade parents to change their minds, honey works better than vinegar.

    On a personal note... although I have not read the Harry Potter books (I do plan on trying one this fall), based on what I have heard, if I had children I might have a problem with them being exposed to the books. I would want to be made well aware of how they were being used, what the discussions would be, etc., But some parents would rather just "delete" what they see as a problem than to work around the problem and perhaps realize that their children are going to be exposed to many more things that will challenge their belief systems as they grow older. Parents should use these types of situations to discuss things with their children rather than just hide everything from them. But not all parents are willing to look at all sides and it comes down to whether it is worth the fight or not to keep the book in your classroom.

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