When School Administrators Think They Know Best

8 Jun

Many authors enjoy being placed on the banned book list, not because their book is challenged, but often because it means their book gets into more hands when people become curious as to why it was banned.  But, I also think that it must hurt when adults don’t understand or are uncomfortable with topics that authors write about for kids, even when they do it in an age-appropriate way.

Just yesterday, there were two instances that were published in which authors were uninvited from visiting a school.  The first was Kate Messner, who on the day her new book, The Seventh Wish was released was uninvited from a school visit.  She discussed the issue on her blog and states that she was disinvited from the school visit that has been planned for over five months because her book discusses the impact of drug addictions on families.  What I don’t understand, is that even though Kate Messner was very clear in a letter to the school about what her story was about, and the school sent a letter home to the parents, and the students began reading the story in class, and the visit has been planned for a long time, they cancelled a day before, a day before.  Is drug addiction a difficult topic, yes it is, but Kate Mesner writes for children and although I haven’t read the book yet, it has received many positive reviews and I believe that she wrote about this topic in an appropriate manner for the age group.  It’s a shame that these kids won’t get the chance to see an author come to their school and learn about their writing process, ask them questions and maybe even provide kids with hope.

The second instance was posted on the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom webpage.  Phil Bildner has been visiting the Round Rock Independent School District every year since 2007, but after booktalking other author’s books (which is something he does at every visit) and has since been uninvited back.  The books he talked about included WonderOut of My MindThe One and Only IvanCrenshawEl Deafo and George.  All books that discuss diversity and courage and learning about who you are and what that means within your family, school and community in one way or another.  After booktalking at a few schools, Phil Bildner began seeing district administrators and the Director of Library and Media Services at every presentation.  And since has been uninvited back.  Are there kids out there who are learning about who they are, figuring out where fit in the world, maybe even transgender?  Of course there are.  How will kids be able to learn about diversity without getting a chance to read about it, talk about it, and learn about it.

This is an older situation, but still just as pertinent.  Shannon Hale was visiting a school and realized that only the middle school girls were present for the visit.  The administration believed that the boys in school would be bored with the presentation because Shannon Hale writes “girl books.”  Because boys won’t read books with girl protagonists… oh wait, what about The Hunger Games?

Again, school administrators who believe they know what is best for their students, but if they’re not willing to allow kids to expand their knowledge, discuss difficult topics, learn from teachers, counselors and authors, than what are they doing?  As, I’ve said in the past and will probably say countless more times on this blog, children will connect to characters that look and act like them, they’ll see themselves in literature and it will make them feel important, noticed and maybe even special.  Diversity in books can also teach kids about people who are different than they are, who maybe believe something different, look differently or whose family is from another place.  As for school administrators, please let your students learn, grow, and experience new things!

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2 Responses to “When School Administrators Think They Know Best”

  1. Kate @ Mom's Radius June 8, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

    Great post! I think it’s parents too. I believe in being honest with my child. It’s my job to teach him about the world, not shelter him. Books are such a great way to address difficult topics and showcase the diversity that doesn’t exist in our community. It makes me so sad when books are banned. Having authors uninvited from schools is even more outrageous. I’m checking out Kate’s book right now!

    • literacious June 8, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

      I completely agree! I believe it’s important to talk about these topics at home too and books are such a great conversation starter. (Just because your child can read doesn’t mean you should stop reading aloud to them)

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