Banned Books Week started in 1982 and is now an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the value of free and open access to information. The event takes place every September, and in 2019 will be held on the 22nd to the 28th, with the theme being: “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark. Keep the Light On.”
If you head to bannedbooksweek.org.uk you’ll find a list of 50 banned books, a list of young banned adult titles, banned plays, 10 ideas for things to do and a school toolkit.
There are classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Colour Purple and The Catcher in the Rye to modern series Harry Potter and His Dark Materials, all with a description of why they were challenged.
For many young readers, Orwell is a first dalliance into politics – whether it’s this fairytale parable of Stalinist dictatorships, or 1984, a dystopian parable of Stalinist dictatorships and how they betray true socialism.
These early steps into politics and allegory can be confusing for teenagers – it was confusing enough for many Soviet-controlled territories which banned it under the assumption it was criticising any kind of socialism.
The classroom, therefore, is the perfect setting for studying Orwell’s masterpieces.
Pupils often struggle with the concept of ‘analysing language’ or pinning down the elusive ‘effect of the word or phrase’. By teaching students to write critically, actively choosing the words they employ, we begin to demystify this term.
Opening the lesson with an engaging clip or visual image related to the learning is a great way into the gateway of a child’s imagination. This lesson uses a clip linked to the theme of Lord of the Flies as a dystopian novel.
Both JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series and JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye regularly feature in banned books lists, and this resource combines them both to look at the voice used to create Holden Caulfield.
Another Texas board banned Moby Dick for the same reason. Hard to know whether their community values were strongly against hunting whales or befriending Native Americans. Let’s hope it’s the former
Dr Seuss books have been banned in American schools for a number of reasons. The Lorax, for example, for its ‘criminalisation of the logging industry’, but other books were banned for supposedly promoting homosexuality and Marxism.
Charlotte’s Web, Animal Farm and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are just some of the famous examples of books banned in various parts of the world for featuring talking animals