Banned Books Week 2014

How are you using technology + literature to celebrate the Freedom to Read?

by Helen Beyne

banned books week

image courtesy of ddpavumba |

As you probably know, the last week of September is Banned Books Week, and this year the focus is on graphic novels. It’s possible that your classroom library already includes one or more titles that have been banned or challenged. (Challenging refers to an attempt to remove materials from libraries, or otherwise restrict access, based on objection to content. Banning refers to the actual removal of materials.)

Electronic books and digital or online annotation can be powerful tools. Anyone who has ever lugged an eight-hundred page anthology from home to school and back again can surely appreciate the portability of e-readers, tablets, and laptops. Likewise, no one who flipped through pages and pages of highlighting, marginalia, and sticky notes trying to recall that one particular a-ha moment can deny that searchability is a real time saver.

Project Gutenberg is a great source for free downloadable (or read-online) books. Their catalog includes titles that are in the public domain in the United States. Use Gutenberg texts on e-readers with highlight and note-taking capability, or invite students to mark them up using an annotation program such as Diigo.

Try searching Curriculet for a title you’re teaching; for instance, The Call of the Wild—a favorite among middle school teachers—has been challenged or banned many times since its 1903 publication. Curriculet lessons are correlated to CCSS, and more importantly, you can make or add your own questions and notes. In addition to answering questions, students can add their own notes!

Auditory learners fear not: If you are looking for yet another non-print way to access great books, Librivox to the rescue. Listen online, or download files of audio recordings of books in the public domain.

Is your class participating in the Virtual Read Out? How is your community celebrating the Freedom to Read? Leave us a comment, send us a tweet, or find us on Facebook!

Helen bioHelen Beyne is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development. She has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *