Banned Books Week
Banned Books Week is one of those ALA events that I always wanted to participate in, but never got around to. Now that I work in a 6-12 school, and with the current political climate that is making it easier to ban books in Florida, I felt like it was more important than ever to create some displays and get some discussions started. I created three different Banned Books Week displays and I’ll share each of them here.
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You don’t HAVE to have these supplies to create a Banned Books Week display, but these helped a lot.
- Caution Tape
- Extra Large Paper Lunch Bags
- Access to a color printer
- Double Stick tape or glue sticks
- Stapler or Thumb tacks
- Dry-erase markers
Research Your Banned Books
Before I created any of these displays, I spent some time researching lists of banned books on BannedBooksWeek.org. I cross-referenced these with our library catalog and created a spreadsheet with the titles and the reasons why someone wanted to ban them. This part is probably what took the longest – in the future, I would collaborate with a language arts class and have students created a Google Sheet collaboratively. I got jpgs of the book covers from Amazon and started creating different graphics using Canva and Google Docs.
For the bulletin board, I chose about twenty of the most impactful titles, a mix of classics students have likely read for class and modern titles. On each image, I inserted the cover of the book and gave a short version of the reason why someone wanted to ban the book. The main page in the middle of the display explains what Banned Books Week is. I also added a disclaimer to this page explaining that the statements on the books were the reason why someone said they wanted to ban this book and that they may or may not be true. Before I added that, one student thought I was banning these books from the library!
To put the board together, I used the caution tape and stapled it in zig zags over the board. I then added the explanation and each of the book covers. The display immediately got attention and a lot of great conversations started up as students were shocked to learn that people had tried to ban their favorite books.
For the book display, I wanted to create something that would be eye-catching but not too labor intensive. I created mini labels using Google Docs and tables that included the cover, the reason why the book was banned, and a link to BannedBooksWeek.org. I had seen a display once that wrapped books in grocery bag paper, but I’m horrible at wrapping things, so I decided to buy some extra large lunch bags instead so I could just slip the book in and tape it shut. The labels are taped on each bag with double stick tape. Here are the signs I displayed with it.
Once the display was up, students almost immediately gravitated towards it. We started up a lot of great discussions about why books are banned and why we should exercise our right to read. Several students checked out books from the display.
We have a whiteboard in the hallway outside the library. I keep several dry erase markers on yarn pinned to the wall next to it. Every month, I put up a new discussion starter. For Banned Books Week, I put up the sentence starter: “The worst thing about censoring what someone can read is…” After putting this up, several students from our Upper School Book Club starting recruiting their friends to add to it.
What displays have you created for Banned Books Week? How do you start conversations with your students about censorship?