Wednesday, September 7, 2016

It's not too late to promote Banned Books Week!

Banned Books Week begins September 25, 2016, and while many school librarians are ready to promote censorship awareness, some of us are still scrambling to get ready. This happens every year, and it seems ludicrous that we all individually work so hard to develop our own thing while we could be pooling our efforts into a collective project with far and lasting reach.

Enter the Challenged Books Slide Show. Admittedly, it doesn't sound inspirational, but it is a conversation starter. Let me explain what it is, and why I am working on it today.

This project began when a fellow Connecticut librarian posted a question to our listserv community via email in the first week of September.

After many years in a middle school, I'm in a high school for Banned Books Week for the first time. I'd love to hear some ways you've celebrated this week in your high school. I'm going to meeting with the English Department on Tuesday to talk about doing something during Banned Books Week with their classes and it would be great if I could impress them by coming in with a list of excellent ideas!​

David Bilmes

I excitedly replied.

OOH! You just inspired me to think of something new. Since we are just getting started with our makerspace, I might set up a collage table with color printouts of the 100 most challenged book covers, glue, scissors, and butcher block paper. Maybe they'll come up with something creative we can display in the school.
Just a thought...

And the month flew by....

I've had my crafts table project idea on my to do list for three weeks, but it is not in place for tomorrow morning. I did start collecting the book cover images though. The American Library Association (ALA)'s Office of Intellectual Freedom is the best "list collector" for Banned Books Week. My favorite is the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books from 2000-2009. There is a 20th century list, but most our students were born after 2000, so I  am not sure that is as relevant for them as the post-2000 list. I found that GoodReads was the best resource to find images of consistent size and quantity images, so I created a list there.

I started a spreadsheet, which would allow us to sort and manipulate information, but I didn't think that was classroom friendly.

This post, by the way, offers a glimpse into my time management issues. You see? I was just going to print pictures, but already, I created a list in GoodReads, and an unfinished spreadsheet. Printed pictures? Nope. Still don't have those.

In populating the spreadsheet, it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to include the
  • year of publication
  • page count
  • interest level
  • reading level
  • Lexile number
  • content concerns
  • description
I was really liking the spreadsheet idea, but that did not solve my picture problem. I still needed printable pictures for my makerspace idea. Printing the GoodReads List did not work - even in PDF. For some reason, titles overlapped, plus they were too small. So I decided to create a slide show, and print that. Then it occurred to me that a slideshow might be a nice instructional tool to pass along to others like David who sent the original listserv post, so I added place holders for all the columns on the spreadsheet next to each book cover image - year of publication: page count,   interest level, reading level, Lexile number, content concerns, and description.

Well, five days later, I am still trying to populate the slideshow, and today is the first day of Banned Books Week. It occurred to me on my way to the School Library Journal Leadership Institute here in Seattle that this was a perfect project to crowdsource, and this was the perfect venue to enlist collaborators. So...

That was a very long-winded request for help. If 20 school librarians tackle 5 slides, we can collectively knock off the project pretty quickly. We could have this thing ready for use in schools everywhere when students arrive on campus in the morning. Are you in?  

The resources are on the last slide (I posted them below). Use the table of contents on slide #3 to navigate.

"Book Reviews." Common Sense Media. 2015. Accessed September 25, 2015.
In a Banned Websites Awareness Day (BWAD) webinar for AASL last week, a participant cautioned me against recommending Common Sense Media curriculum for digital citizenship lessons. She explained  their book reviews were "conservative". I don't see them as conservative as much as informational. They do feature content concerns, but I think this is to help teachers and parents avoid making uninformed choices. It helps them preview resources responsibly, and preview is essential. I used this resource for the "content concerns."

"Quick Book Search." Lexile. 2015. Accessed September 25, 2015.
Self-explanatory - use search field in top right-hand corner to find Lexile number.

"Titlewave: Library, Classroom, & Digital Solutions." Follett Learning. 2015. Accessed September 25, 2015.
I happened to use this resource, but any content aggregator would work. I located the year of publication, reading and interest levels. 

Chris Harris loved the idea of keeping the spreadsheet. He thought that provided a rich pool of instructional opportunities involving the analysis of quantitative data, so I embedded it in slide number 2. 

When I pitched the idea, Elissa Malespina and Jane Lofton jumped on board. Thank you!

If anyone develops a lesson plan out of this instructional tool, please include a link on the lesson plan slide. Use the table of contents on slide #3 to navigate.

1 comment:

  1. I love this slideshow! And, even if it's not done for this year, it will be valuable in future years. And, putting the book covers in Google Slides makes it really easy to print them out. I recently learned that Google Slides provides one of the easiest ways to print out a series of graphics.

    I've added text to a few slides and will continue to as I can.