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READALICIOUS! Books for Tweens

Why I Love Banned Books

Which one has banned books? I didn't realize how much they really do look alike until my sixth graders got a little confused.
Which one has banned books? I didn't realize how much they really do look alike until my sixth graders got a little confused.

If you want to get tweens to read, forbid it!

It's really that easy.

So, every September, Banned Books Week helpfully opens the door to showcasing the many, many titles that have been ousted from schools. Together, we view and discuss a slideshow that showcases authors and their challenged books. (The American Library Association has a collection of materials.)

My tween specific list, presented in full conspiracy ("Shhh! They don't want you to know this stuff!"), is like catnip to sixth graders. This year, in particular, students expressed true shock and outrage! Indignity, even!

"What? Why?!" "Really???"
" I don't get it."
"But... that's a really good book!"
"I LOVE that book!!!!"
"But, isn't that book a classic?"

As a reading teacher, I couldn't be more pleased. Of the forbidden books that I introduce by author, plot, and title, the big reveal to students is that....

I carry ALL of them in my FREADom library! Here they are! Come get 'em!

A happy stampede to read ensues.

All of a sudden, the title of my locally famous library makes sense to them. Reading, freedom, FREADom.... "Oh, yeah! I get it!"

The shocking book for my kids this year is The Giver because of the movie, of course, but I've been teaching it for years.

The Harry Potter books, oh my. I'm here to report: sixth graders no longer recognize a certain famous author by photo! The series is a generation+ removed, a "classic" oldie. But, they're hooked on Harry and can't imagine why anyone would say "Don't read that!"

They know about Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer but confuse Mark Twain with Einstein: it's that crazy white hair. Either way, there's an open door to brilliant ideas and adventures. (For middle schoolers who want an Einsteinian challenge, there's the Story of Science series, edited my sister Lorri: The Story of Science: Einstein Adds a Dimension)

Roald Dahl is also "old" in their eyes, but they know Matilda and Charlie and are flabbergasted to discover that the beloved James the Giant Peach has also been on the list of challenged books.

Then there's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and more than a dozen other stories by Alvin Schwartz. To quote one of my sage sixth graders, "I wouldn't want to read that because I don't like scary books, but I don't care if other people read it."

Finally, what better for sixth grade than Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume. As indicated in my parent survey, this classic book happens to have been a favorite of quite of few of my sixth-grade moms when they were 11-ish years old.

So many banned titles, especially those tried and true classics... bring them on, I say!

PS. The Literacy Adviser, Bill Boyd, wrote an excellent blog post urging us all to read a banned book today (including Judy Blume's Forever).

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