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Tag Archives: Literature

Censorship of Children’s Books ~ Banned Books Week

Working in a school library, censorship is a constant focus with challenges to the provision of information coming from many angles, including teachers, the government, community and parents. Edwards (2006) states that the challenge to books has been increasing in recent years and most common reasons for challenges include morality, obscenity, profanities and, witchcraft and occult themes from wizards to ghosts.

The State Library of Victoria provides a list of ten most challenged books and on that list is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

Some issues confronted at the school level can pertain to covert forms of censorship contradicting standards for professional practice and the commitment to provision of access to information that has a right to be represented in the school community (Asheim, 2009). In this regard reference is made to value judgments by library staff in the selection process, leading to exclusion of resources or making access to information difficult. This is evident in the following examples

  • Expressed preferences for certain formats over others.
  • Positioning of books/information where it is not easily accessed.

The focus of this professional development activity is to highlight a commitment to the promotion and advocacy for freedom of information and the rights to reading. By committing to raising awareness amongst the school community I have chosen to investigate Banned Books Week; celebrating the freedom to read.

Banned Books Week is held during September 22-28, 2013 and associated activities for potential inclusion in the school library program during this time are being investigated.

Why is this important?

In discussion with teachers, parents and staff, I have learnt that censorship is highly emotive when it concerns children as the audience of information. Many have strongly formed attitudes that in turn impact on objectivity in this area including collection selection. Choosing to raise awareness with a Banned Books Week program provides an avenue to explore censorship in a manner that feels safe and non confronting. Some of the books on the list are highly valued by many, thus providing an avenue to delve into this topical area whilst promoting critical reflection.

Being able to instigate discussion around censorship is important for my professional practice and commitment to advocacy for the right to provide access to information objectively is demonstrated in this programming.

Exploring Banned Books week provides an insight into activities that can be implemented at a school level; including displays of books that have been challenged, readings of passages by students and teachers and displaying lists of the challenged books over an historical timeline. Coming across the lists of books that have been challenged, provides a tremendous insight into the need to continue raising awareness as it is ongoing and increasing.

National Archives Australia provides a great resource exploring Books and Magazines Banned in Australia from the 1920’s to 1970’s. The University of Melbourne has a website, Banned Books in Australia linked to ‘A Special Collections ~ Art in the library exhibition’.

Why not visit Banned Books Week Virtual Read-out and hear some passages of books being read

Asheim, L., (2009) Not Censorship but Selection, Children’s Literature in Eduction, 40(3), 197-216.

Edwards, H., (2006) Censorship of Kids books on the rise, The Age, April 30 2006.

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The Inky Awards ~ Young peoples book awards

Inside A Dog

Outside a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside a Dog, it’s too dark to read ~ Groucho Marx.

The website Inside a Dog is an initiative developed by the State Library of Victoria targeting a teenage audience. As the website states it is

“All about books by young people for young people”

The website is structured to incorporate forums where young people can have discussions, enter competitions, review books, join online book-clubs, chat to a current author in residence, find out current literature-related news, or vote for books to be awarded an Inky Award.

There is a very useful teachers section with links and resources that are mapped to curriculum standards. Suggested activities and resources provide useful online activities-based programs. The main focus of the site is user-generated book reviews, thus forming a great addition for any literacy-based activities and promoting conversation as part of the learning process.

This post will focus on evaluating the Inky Awards for inclusion in the celebrated Book Week in August.

The Inky Awards

In the Library we currently celebrate the Children’s Book of the Year Awards by the Children’s Book Council of Australia as part of Book Week in August. This year, the school library would like to extend this by incorporating the Inky Awards amongst the books celebrated. The short list for the Inky Awards is announced online via the Inside a Dog website on August 26th, coinciding with Book Week. The shortlist of books that students can vote for, is decided by teen judges. To become a judge a young person submits an application via email. Once selected the judges read 20 books in a two-month period and reach a consensus on the 10 shortlisted books. This shortlist is then open to other young people to vote for a book to be awarded an Inky award in one of two categories.

Gold Inky for an Australian book

Silver Inky for an International Book

As part of Book Week, a prominent display of nominated books is created, author visits occur, activities are programed related to the books and readings of the shortlisted books take place. By introducing The Inky Awards to the Book Week program, the students can participate in voting for a children’s book awards. Hopefully this can continue for years to come.

Because the website is focussed on participation and engagement of young people in online environments, it promotes empowerment via digital literacy and citizenship by encouraging connecting with wider groups. It extends literacy development beyond the classroom and school to include other young people and to the wider community, in forging links with the State Library of Victoria. This is a great basis for the promotion of life-long learning beyond the school.

As a librarian in a school setting, this resource is a great addition to any program in literacy development. It fosters a love of reading by encouraging reading as a social activity. Thereby linking in with Piaget’s constructivist approaches to learning grounded in developmental needs (Garhart Mooney, 2013 p.79).

By evaluating websites, children’s book awards and potential programs with curriculum links, I am able to provide resources in support of the school curriculum and the teaching and learning needs of staff and students. This is supported by standards of professional practice for teacher librarians (ASLA, 2004).

This website is geared towards an older age group in children, predominantly teenagers. Whilst this can be useful to the Grade 5/6 demographic of the primary school, I would like to investigate something similar for the younger children in the school. Consequently, the Inky Awards will be geared towards the older children in the school. It may be interesting to initiate a school based book awards for younger grades as a lead in to the Inky Awards when they are in Grade 5 and 6.

ASLA (2004) Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians, retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Garhart Mooney, C. (2013) Theories of Childhood, Second Edition: An Introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget and Vygotsky, Redleaf Press, Minesota, USA.

 

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Maurice Sendak: A Tribute

Street art of ‘Where the wild things are’ in Sydney

Having grown up with the stories of Maurice Sendak it is with great sadness that his passing is felt. I take joy in knowing that his legacy remains in the ability to continue sharing the joy of his imagination. The magic of his stories for future generations is a treasure. With this I share the following as a tribute…. and with all my joy, as both a child and adult, I say thank you to Maurice Sendak.

Street art for Newtown, Sydney

Street Art of Max from ‘Where the wild things are’ in Sydney

 

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History as Absence

Absence of proof is not proof of absence.
William Cowper

Absence of... By Ky Olsen

When I first started this blog, as a response to starting my Librarian studies, my mind traveled to the library moments that were defining to my love of all things library. In my first post Hatching, I discussed a childhood experience of volunteering at a local sub-branch of Marrickville library called “The Warren”. I used to spend many afternoons there, after school, as both my parents worked late and I had no-one to answer to. My choice as a child was to go to the library until it closed. After writing that initial post, spurred by an early memory, I decided to investigate further and find out what ever happened to this sub-branch of Marrickville library. Who to ask was easy “Ask a Librarian”. I looked up Marrickville Library and on their website I came across a History Services link. After trawling through the history archives online, I realised my search was futile as there appeared to be no mention of the sub-branch called “The Warren” anywhere. I tried their search with “Warren”, “sub-branch” and other configurations but proved unsuccessful. Was this a figment of my imagination? I am sure this is not a made-up memory. Is this how I imagined my ideal childhood, spent at the library amongst books, every afternoon and sometimes on Saturday mornings? I needed to further my investigations so I sent an email to Marrickville Library, explaining I was trying to locate some historical information, based on a childhood memory, of a sub-branch that I frequented? Could they help me with information, photos, details of the branch etc…. Below is the response I received.

“Thank you for your enquiry regarding ‘The Warren Library’. Surprisingly, there is very little information on this branch and its history.

The Warren Library was indeed a small children’s library and was open each afternoon for several hours. In one of our books published by our previous historian, there is a small mention of the dates that the branch was open, from September 25, 1965 and was then subsequently closed in 1985 (no exact date given). It also mentioned a couple other smaller branches closed in the same year, but there is no mention as to why.

Unfortunately, there was no other information available in any of our local history files or local history collection.

Thank you again for your enquiry, alas that we could not find more information for you.

Kind regards,

Jo Stacey Acting Local Studies Officer | Marrickville Library & History Services

Marrickville Council I PO Box 79 Marrickville NSW 1475 I www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au

P 02 9335 2167 | F 02 9596 2829 | E libassist02@marrickville.nsw.gov.au

Now, in considering this information, my topic broadens and I start musing on concepts of ‘Absence’ and the connection to storying in Hi”story”. Why was this information on this branch deemed not important enough to be archived? How are such decisions made? What is the criteria in place and what values are in operation in making decisions to enable ‘absence’ at a later point in time? In essence, how do we decide what is important historically and what perspectives end up getting lost, made absent and hence inaccessible. How is value determined of historical existence and what is missing from our narratives as time travels?

Many other ideas are inter-related of course. For instance, Ruby Langford Ginibi, argued strongly years ago about her book “Don’t take you love to town” needing to be included as an historical text in the History curriculum of NSW.  Being an autobiography, it is reasoned that it is a primary source of her account as dispossession and displacement in the history  of Australia and our post-colonial past. It has not been accepted as an historical text, and the question applies here too, why not? Why is it not perceived or valued as a primary source? An account exploring these ideas is captured by Carole Ferrier.

As another extension of the idea, a few years back I read “The Orchard” by Drusilla Modjeska and within this book I came across a passage beautifully written that linked erasure of female identity to erasure of female name. The premise is, if naming throughout time, in the western tradition, is based on the women receiving the fathers surname on birth, then the maternal link to heritage is broken. Furthermore, if a woman then takes the husbands surname upon marriage, then there is a further break with history of women. Hence, ‘absence’ of women through “his”tory.

‘Absence’ is a powerful concept when we consider how our storying of existence takes shape.

I love Marrickville

I love Marrickville cc licensed and shared by Lachlan Hardy

 

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Learning From Diversions

With my scholarly paper looming, diversions are ever so present. This diversion is one that I cannot resist. Besides as a librarian in training, it is my duty to attend such an event. Now for a hearty breakfast and then off to this wonderful event…

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/event/childrens-book-festival-family-day

 

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