To read or not to read — the Missourian and American Library Association draw attention to banned books

William Woods EDU

Whether you’re teaching beginning readers or senior high school seminar, every teacher, principal and superintendent will encounter the issue of “appropriate material.”

Missouri teachers can access an excellent resource on book challenges and bans in the state of Missouri from the Missourian. The publication submitted Sunshine requests for public records of book challenges to all 566 Missouri school districts asking for all correspondence regarding book challenges since Jan. 1, 2008. Responses to the requests came in from 495 of the school districts. There were 51 titles challenged in 32 school districts, including one in Columbia.

Missouri education leaders can also find various social media discussions about the issue of challenged books

The American Library Association draws attention to the issue each year with its Banned Books Week event, celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, the event highlights the value of free and open access to information.

The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles lists of challenged books in order to inform the public about censorship efforts that affect libraries and schools. The lists draw from reports contributed by libraries, schools, and the media on attempts to ban books in communities across the country. Some of the lists include:

Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

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