Monday, June 25, 2012

Spelling Bees and Banned Books


I’m still sorting and organizing into my summer…finding all kinds of interesting tidbits of information as I weed files I’ve meant to get back to.  One of the cool-er finds is summarized comments from Middle School Teacher Librarian Eileen Godwin. She was enjoying the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee  http://www.spellingbee.com/  and noticed a few things that we parents and teachers would do well to also notice:

The biographies of this year’s 278 participants included mention of favorite reading material. Titles were as diverse as the kids who read them. Everything from The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby to To Kill a Mockingbird, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games were mentioned. Some participants, such as this year’s winner, named “encyclopedias” or the Dictionary as favorite reads. However, of the 91 spellers that cited a specific book title, two-thirds of the titles were either once banned or challenged books.

Banned or challenged books? Hmmmmmmmm.  Is there a lesson here? Could it be that books, especially controversial reads, lead to super learning and growth? After all, not many of us have been spelling bee champs..what goes into the making of a spelling bee champ mind?

I’m the last person in the world to advocate letting kids read whatever they want whenever they want. Parents have a crucial role in guiding their children into good and appropriate reading. However, I think it’s worth noting that books that have crossed boundaries….those “no no’s” have a place for readers who are looking to grow their minds. At the very least, controversial books can make for great conversation starters with kids and adults. Why is this book controversial? Have you read it? Did it bother you? Offend you? Why would this author think this subject, idea, event important for us to read and think about?

For the most up to date list of challenged and banned books (prepare yourself for some surprises) see the American Library Association list: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/challengedclassics

Banned book week is celebrated September 30th – October 8th this year. Find a way to read a book that has it someone’s fire…see what happens. Maybe you'll become a better speller.

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