Thursday, October 1, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Lessons from a Past Erin (5)

Hey, there, everyone! It's Thursday, which means it's time for another Throwback Thursday lesson from me! This new feature premiered on The Hardcover Lover about a month ago, and it's called Throwback Thursday: Lessons from a Past Erin. I've been setting the posts up like little mini-lessons, and so far, I'm having a blast exploring my past and seeing what you all have to say about what I learned in my YA Literature class. 

In case this is the first Throwback Thursday post you're seeing or if you're a brand new follower, these are notes that I found from my YA lit class that I took way back in the spring semester of 2011. I've set these posts up to work as a different kind of discussion post; they are acting as a lesson and a discussion post in one! I'll be sharing my notes, and reflecting on them. I'll also be asking what you think of each week's topic.

Bell Ringer

Before we begin, I want you to think of a book that you were told that you weren't allowed to read while growing up, or that you're not allowed to read right now if you're a teenager.

It might have been a book that your parents kept from you. It could be a book that your church says is wrong. It could even be a book that your teachers aren't allowed or weren't allowed to teach when you were in school. 

Got it? Okay. Now think of the reasons that you were given as to why you weren't allowed to read that particular book, and get ready for the Banned Books Week themed Throwback Thursday post.

Banned Books

How can you take a YA class without the issue of banned books coming up? You can't. Way back in 2011, my professor took the time to provide us with a lot of materials about banned books. One article that she gave us really stood out in my mind, so for today's Throwback Thursday lesson, I'm going to quote it, and give you my thoughts.

"Guideline on The Students' Right to Read"

My Reflections and Thoughts on the Article

One would think that living in the United States means that children and students can read what they want, but that's not the case. Teachers, schools, and school boards are still censoring books based on what they think is right for the students. It's a practice that has been going on for years, and will continue to happen unless we, as readers, teachers, parents, and advocates do something about it. 

According to the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English), "American schools have been pressured to restrict or deny students access to books or periodicals deemed objectionable by some individual or group on moral, political, religious, ethnic, racial, or philosophical grounds." 

If you look at all of those different reasons as to why books are banned, it's very easy to see why so many books are banned, and it's unfair. How are students ever going to learn to appreciate other cultures if books that could help explain them are banned? How are students going to learn empathy if books that could show them the way are being removed? There are just too many educational moments that are being taken away from students when books are removed from classrooms and school libraries. 

The article, even explains why some books, both classics and modern books are banned from schools across the country:

♢ Plato's Republic for being "'un-Christian'"
♢ Shakespeare's Macbeth for being "'too violent for children today'"
♢ Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter for being "'a filthy book'"
♢ Herman Melville's Moby Dick because it "'contains homosexuality'"
♢ J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye because it is "'A dreadful, dreary recital of sickness and sadism'"
♢ Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird because "'The word rape is used several times. Children should not see this in any literature book.'"
I was lucky enough to go to a school that didn't censor the above titles. All of those titles could be found in the school library, and many of them were assigned readings. 

I can't imagine growing up and not having read about Scout's childhood. That book quickly became a favorite of mine, and is one of the many reasons that I became a voracious reader. I can't imagine never reading Macbeth. It was my favorite piece of literature from my senior year of high school, and I went on to read so many more of Shakespeare's plays on my own.

These so called "banned books" taught me so much about life. They taught me that a man will stand up for an innocent person to prove to his kids that life is unfair. They taught me that even your own family can turn on you. These books taught me that event the most holy of people are hypocrites. They taught met that's it's okay to be sad and confused. But mostly, they prepared me for the real world and life after high school and college.

Life isn't pretty, and life isn't perfect. Today's students already know that because of the world in which they live. You can't turn on a new program without seeing many of the themes and events from these books. These students have already faced so much adversity, so why ban books that could relate to their lives? Why take away something that could really help a young person understand the world?

Class Discussion

Now I leave it up to you, little Hardcover Lovers. Please let me know how you feel about banned books. Do you read them? Were any banned from you as a child or student? Do you censor books for your own children? Why? Why not?

Feel free to sound off in the comments. This is a very important week, and seeing where everyone stands truly fascinates me. 

Just remember to be polite and courteous to other readers. If I find that people are bullying others, the comments will be removed and reported as harassment.
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