Student Readers, School Libraries, and Activists for the Freedom to Read Books of Choice in Inspiring New Novel
No Banned Books for Students Who Value Reading
No Banned Books in Our School Libraries
Allison Varines' new novel Property of the Rebel Librarian for young readers ages 8-12 is a timely empowering read for students who want the opportunity to choose what they want to read. Parents sometimes have problems with what their children want to read, but after all, isn't the fact that they are reading more important than what they read? Students should have the opportunity to choose their reading materials and to learn what makes a good reading experience.
The administration of Dogwood Middle School makes the unfortunate decision to begin censoring the books that the school library supplies for its students. June Harper's parents discovered what they considered to be an inappropriate book in the school library and demanded that the school change the books that their students had access to. The school librarian was put on suspension and now the books that the school library offers must have the approval of the school administrators. This is not something that June is willing to accept. She loves books and is appalled by what her school has decided to do.
One day while walking to school, she discovers the Little Free Library. This is an exciting discovery for June because she now can keep reading what she wants to read. All of the banned books that her own school library discarded are available in this little library. She decides to keep a small collection of banned books in her school locker to share with other students. This is extremely risky, but June believes in her cause and is willing to keep sharing the banned books. A special quote from The Velveteen Rabbit keeps her inspired and she continues her fight to be allowed to read what she and other students want to read. Her inspiring fight for being able to read what she wants to read even gets her a feature on The Today Show. She brands herself as the "rebel librarian" and vows to keep up the fight to stop banned books in libraries. She decides that she will someday choose the career of librarian when she grows up.
Varnes includes a list of books that June has in her special library at the conclusion of the book. These are a sample of books that have come under scrutiny from parents in real life. The Harry Potter Books are examples of books that some adults object to because of the magical aspects of these fun reads. But, after all, June's point is well-taken and students who love to read agree with her point that "we need to think so we can figure things out for ourselves. How can we ever learn to be responsible citizens if you put the library on lockdown?"
Property of the Rebel Librarian was published by Random House Children's books, a division of Penguin/Random House. It is recommended of ages 8-12 and has an ISBN of 978-1-5247-7147-8.
June's List of Banned Books to Share with Other Students
A Wealth of Teaching Concepts for the Classroom
Property of the Rebel Librarian offers a wealth of ideas for teachers who teach reading classes, literature classes, and English classes in middle school. Chapter books such as this fun read are great choices for teachers to develop activities in order to enhance the story.
*Read Property of the Rebel Librarian as a group reading session with one or two chapters read each day. Students may like to read ahead and the book can be assigned as an individual book for later projects.
*Brainstorm with students to get their ideas about having books that they want to read banned from their school library. Has your school ever banned a book and why was it banned? How do the students feel about this?
*Call attention to the included list of books that some adults object to having their children read. Brainstorm ideas about these books with your students. The Harry Potter books are often the subject of books that parents object to. How do your students feel about these books? Take a class poll of the number of students who have parents who might have objections to the Harry Potter books.
*Begin a class project to assign one of the books on the list in June's library to students. Send a note home to parents about the project with books that have been banned in some libraries. Have the students choose one of these books to read and assign a writing project about the book with features that they think makes the book a banned book in a library.
*Interview a librarian from your school or the library in your community to get their ideas about banning books for children.
Our Children's Freedom to Read
Does your school or community library have banned books that are unavailable to children?
© 2018 Cindy Hewitt