Poetry Matters: Stuff An English Teacher Says
Books Aren’t Meant to be Banned: They’re Written to be Read
“Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.”
― Heinrich Heine
I don’t know about you but there’s so much talk of censorship of literature these days that I find it ludicrous! Can’t we all just be grateful when students pick up a book?
As an English teacher of over 15 years, let me tell you that it never really matters what book I teach, but how I teach it, and what text to text, or text world connections we make.
I mean whatever happened to reading about different perspectives to gain perspective? Why are we inserting perspectives, and, therefore, limiting perspectives?
These days students are exposed to more violent and sexual images than ever before, and yet the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel, Maus, reflecting the atrocities of the Holocaust was banned by a Tennesse school board.
Living in times of informational technology overload where the lines between fact and fiction are blurred more every day, and now we want to censor literature?
Who are these people making these decisions? Are they educators? Do they hold a degree in English literature? Because I can tell you quite frankly that there isn’t a book on the banned list that I won’t read. And reading such books has made me better off because of it.
Frankly, the students who read these books are also better off for it. We should be thankful when a student is holding a paperback. We should be thankful that they know what a new book smells like. Or what a library book smells like.
And let me remind you that during the pandemic these opportunities became limited. Life has become more fabricated and less interactive, even in the way we interact with books.
If you thought it was challenging getting kids to read books in the past then you haven’t met a teenager today. Just imagine all of the things that are competing for their attention.