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Inside Practically Paradise

Letter to my faculty on Banned Book Week Celebrations

Sept 25- October 1 is Banned Book Week which highlights the importance of intellectual freedom. In the JFK library we have a sign quoting John F. Kennedy on censorship

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values.  For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.  ~John F. Kennedy”

There was an excellent blog post by teacher/author Kate Messener that I thought I would share with you at Here’s a snippet:

“This middle school serves sixth graders as young as ten years old and eighth graders as old as fifteen.  Five years is a big gap, and those are no ordinary five years.  The difference between ten and fifteen is the difference between Legos and iPods, the difference between trick-or-treating and Homecoming Dances. The difference between child and young adult.

Our kids are not only different ages; they arrive at school with different reading levels, different backgrounds, and different experiences that have shaped their lives in both positive and negative ways. They have different needs when it comes to reading.

The book that is perfect for your wide-eyed sixth grade girl isn’t likely to be a good fit for a fifteen-year-old boy repeating eighth grade.   The book that eighth grader will read and love is probably not one that would be right for your sixth grader right now.  But as teachers and librarians, we have a responsibility to serve all of the kids who come to us. We have a responsibility to offer literature choices that speak to all of them and meet all of their diverse needs.”

Who would think that librarians care so passionately about students’ access to materials? We do. In fact, Michael Moore once commented:

I really didn’t realize the librarians were, you know, such a dangerous group. They are subversive. You think they’re just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They’re like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn’t mess with them.


I love the blog post by Kate Messner and hope all of you go read this. I’m so greatful for her eloquence in expressing what I’ve wanted to say so many times. Thank you Kate and E. Kristen Anderson.


  1. Thanks for linking to Kate’s guest post at my blog! I’ve had a great time rounding up some fabulous voices for Banned Books Week this year. In fact, this week is all interviews with banned authors at my blog.

    And I love the Michael Moore quote. How awesome!

  2. susan norwood says:

    I have been asked by the principal of my school to remove a book from my classroom library, because he finds it personally offensive and believes that it may be misinterpreted by students. The book by Susan Campbell Bartoleti is “They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of An American Terrorist Group.” This book has received outstanding reviews in a number of professional journals, including The School Library Journal. Books like this are important because they expose how hate groups work. I do not want to contradict him. but I think students should be able to read it if they so choose. I do not know what to do, as this goes against my belief in the freedom of choice.