Thursday, June 9, 2016

Middle Grade Thursday: Fighting Against Censorship

Two authors had their school visits cancelled because of "controversial" content in their books or in books they had book talked.

Phil Bildner's story:

Amy and I both have the misfortune to live in the state infamous for making discriminating against transgendered people the law.

As librarians, this goes against everything we stand for in our profession. I could rail on and on about this and the politics involved in HB 2, but it would be preaching to the choir.

I've rarely experienced author visits. We had one in my 12 1/2 years at my former school, which is a Title 1 school with 93% of the students receiving free/reduced lunch. Being a native North Carolinian Edith Cohn very generously came for free. I ordered 20 copies of her book, Spirit's Key, from Amazon. I sold 10 copies, gave away 5 and put the other 5 in our library. The kids talked about the visit for weeks afterwards. They were amazed that someone who had a book published was willing to come to see them.

Despite attending schools in an upper middle class neighborhood, author visits aren't a common occurrence at my children's schools. Carolyn, who is finishing 7th grade, very excitedly attended an extension of nErDcampMI, nErDcamp Jr., in 2014, and met three authors. Charlotte, who is finishing 4th grade is coming to the same event this year. Not a day goes by that she doesn't mention meeting Raina Telgemeier. 

The fact that adults would willingly choose to take away the magical experience of an author visit from kids is both baffling and heartbreaking.

What can I do? What do librarians do? We put books in the hands of kids. The greatest inspiration for this is my friend and the Ambassador of School Libraries, John Schu, aka @mrschureads. He has given books to both Amy and me. Plus, he was the King of Author Visits during his tenure as a school librarian. 

Teachers and/or school librarians: I'm giving away three bundles with the following books for your school or classroom libraries. Contact me in some way (comment on this post, reply to a tweet or FB msg or RT) to win. Contest ends Thursday, June 16 and the winner will be announced on Friday! Also, I am calling tomorrow to donate to Kate's initiative to help the kids in Burlington, VT. More details here:

Books in the giveaway bundle:

And Edith's for coming to my school gratis! 


  1. As a librarian of Vermont, I have long been a fan of Kate's books. I have also read George as it is on our new 2016-17 Dorothy Canfield Fisher list for 4th-8th graders. As much as I love stories, I inhale Author's Notes. Kate's author's notes indicate her detailed investigation into whatever topic of story. Seeing how drugs can alter a person and their entire family is a heart-breaking reality. More kids need to know that they are not alone. Our middle school read Falling by Doug Wilhelm and discussed the drug culture of the nearby city of Rutland.We need to reach kids early , and often, to let them know there are people who can help.

  2. I live in a small rural community as well (in the South) and while we don't face many issues, I would like to think we would be open to books that discuss tough issues. Tough issues are a part of our students lives whether we want to admit it or not. Ignoring the issues don't cause them to disappear, it just closes students off from the realities of the world, how to respond to those topics, and have meaningful discussions with their friends, parents, family, teachers, pastors, and others in their sphere of influence. As an educator my job is to educate, and to teach students to think for themselves.


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