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(Young) Adult Books: How Dark Is Too Dark?

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Ross Brenneman—one of the authors of Education Week's newest blog, Rules for Engagement—has a new post up today about the 30th Annual Banned Books Week. The week was organized by the American Library Association for the dual purpose of celebrating open access to information and calling for action against censorship.

Brenneman has collected a number of informative links about banned books and fun adjectives to describe famous books that have been challenged by the public for their appearance in schools and libraries. The material he has collected could lead to some interesting conversations in high school English classes. And getting a high-school senior to read an assigned book might, perhaps, be made all the easier were they to find out that the book had once been described as "obscene," "vulgar," "profane," and "overly sexual."

Having said that, this week does bring to mind a piece I read in the Christian Science Monitor over the summer which discussed the hot-button topic of adding age-range information to young adult books. With young adult fiction becoming darker and darker (for example, The Hunger Games and The Lost Voices trilogies) and J.K. Rowling, herself, veering into bleaker territory, albeit in an adult book, this is a question that more people are going to begin thinking about—particularly for "tweens."

How about your classrooms? Have you had trouble with parents who were shocked at the content of the books your students read for class, or got from the school library? Do you think that a formal age-range system based on content—rather than reading level—would hurt or help your classrooms and schools?


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