Teaching Banned Books: 12 Guides for Young Readers

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Who hasn't read Blubber? And yet, published in 1974 and a New York Times 'Outstanding Book', it remains one of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books and is kept out of many school libraries. As a standard-bearer for intellectual freedom, the school librarian is in an ideal position to collaborate with teachers to not only protect the freedom to read but also ensure that valued books with valuable lessons are not quarantined from the readers for whom they were written. In this classroom- and library-ready book of discussion guides, award-winning champion of children's literature Pat Scales shows that there is a way to teach these books while respecting all views.

The twelve books featured in Teaching Banned Books, all challenged at one time or another, are jumping-off points for rich and engaging discussion among young readers, their librarians and teachers, and their parents. Each guide includes a summary of the novel, a pre-reading activity, tips for introducing the topic, critical-thinking discussion questions, and an annotated bibliography of related fiction and nonfiction. Armed with award-winning books that kids love, you will:

  • Stimulate critical-thinking in reading.
  • Encourage freedom of thought and expression.
  • Integrate 1st Amendment principles into project-based social studies and language arts.
  • Communicate the value of banned books to administrators and challengers.

There's a win-win way of teaching banned books, and Pat Scales shares it in this brilliant handbook for educators and school librarians who serve today's young readers.

FOREWORD by Judy Blume

PART ONE: The First Amendment, Censorship, and Intellectual Freedom

Strategy 1 Studying the First Amendment

Strategy 2 Places I Never Meant to Be, edited by Judy Blume

PART TWO: The Bully and the Outcasts

Strategy 3 Blubber, by Judy Blume

STtrategy 4 The Goats, by Brock Cole

Strategy 5 Summer Triology: One Fat Summer, Summer Rules, and The Summerboy, by Robert Lipsyte

PART THREE: Racism, Bigotry, and Civil Rights

Strategy 6 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor

Strategy 7 The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis

PART FOUR: Reality, Secrets, and the Imagination

Strategy 8 Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson

Strategy 9 I Will Call It Georgie's Blues, by Suzanne Newton

PART FIVE: Other Worlds, Other Cultures, and Other Times

Strategy 10 The Giver, by Lois Lowry

Strategy 11 Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George

Strategy 12 My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier


Pat R. Scales

Pat R. Scales is a 1966 graduate of the University of Montevallo (AL), and received a MLS from George Peabody College for Teachers of Vanderbilt University in 1972. She served as librarian at Greenville Middle School for 26 years and was the first Director of Library Services at the South Carolina Governors School for the Arts and Humanities. She taught children’s and young adult literature for 27 years at Furman University, and has taught special topics courses at the University of Texas, Louisiana State University, Drexel University, and University of South Carolina. She is a past President of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, and has served as chair of the prestigious Newbery, Caldecott, and Wilder Award Committees. Scales has been actively involved with ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee for a number of years, and served two terms as chair. She is a member of the Freedom to Read Foundation, serves on the Council of Advisers of the National Coalition Against Censorship, and acts as a spokesperson for first amendment issues as they relate to children and young adults. Her books include Teaching Banned Books: Twelve Guides for Young Readers, Protecting Intellectual Freedom in Your School Library, Books Under Fire: A Hit List of Banned and Challenged Children’s Books, Defending Frequently Challenged Young Adult Books, and Scales on Censorship: Real Life Lessons from School Library Journal. She writes a bimonthly column, “Scales on Censorship,” for School Library Journal, curriculum guides on children’s and young adult books for a number of publishers, and is a regular contributor to Book Links magazine.

"Scales argues persuasively...Teaching banned books is a welcome addition to the literature about controversial books."
—Journal of Children's Literature

"This book can serve as a springboard for class discussions, staff development for administrators and teachers, and for parent groups. It can also reinforce the courage of those who work with young people to provide avenues for them to practice this important right."
—School Library Journal

"'a rich resource in a concise format'"

"'an impressive, informative, challenging, effective, thought-provoking, and highly recommended approach to a difficult, endemic, and controversial subject.'"
—Midwest Book Review

"When Judy Blume says "Bravo!" to an author in a book's foreword, librarians should take notice. And this very useful book certainly deserves the accolades that Blume gives."
—Public Libraries