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Secret, Underground Library

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Group blog boingboing recently featured a story about a decidedly atypical high-school rebel. A teenager in a private school is using the unoccupied locker next to her own to run a lending library of banned books. The list includes: The Canterbury Tales, Candide, The Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Animal Farm, the Holy Qu'ran, and more. The library’s popularity grew—as did her peers’ interest in reading—through word of mouth and the library now contains 62 banned books. The story surfaced when the girl posted a question about the ethics of her underground library on Yahoo! Answers. She asked:

Before I started, almost no kid at school but myself took an active interest in reading! Now not only are all the kids reading the banned books, but go out of their way to read anything they can get their hands on. So I'm doing a good thing, right?

Not only is she lending out books, she’s guided by a sense of appropriateness and quality.

I limit my 'library' to only the sophmores [sic], juniors and seniors just in case so you can't say I'm exposing young people to materiel [sic] they're not mature enough for … I am starting [an] appreciation of the classics and truly good novels (Not just fad novels like Twilight) in my generation.
6 Comments

Cheers to this intelligent young lady. I taught English Lit for years, and the only way I could get many students to read the books listed above was to tell them not to read them without parental permission because they contained racy material.

I agree with the previous writer. This young person is doing a terrific thing, exposing friends to classic works. I taught high school English for more than 25 years,and I often enticed my students to read by suggesting the raciness of Shakespeare's comic relief or the soap opera lifestyles of the ancient Greeks, etc.... In fact, I often told them they needed to read and decipher certain passages for themselves because I wasn't "permitted" to dwell on them. The students and I would chuckle devilishly at their understanding of the "forbidden" passages. It worked. They read and found relevance in some pretty heavy literature.

That some can keep exotic dangerous animals and some cannot read what they like is dangerous.

If only teachers would introduce new and interesting books to students, this young student (teacher) might not have to worry about what she is doing. While many of the books discussed would be considered one of the classics, she did mention a few books written after the 1950's. Kids want to read but they don't want to read dated material that no longer reflects their world.

Oh my! This is priceless. I teach a class called Reading for Pleasure. I wish I could have this young lady in my class. I always introduce Banned Books Week by showing students a list of banned and challenged books, and invite them to ask why the books were banned. I can stir the pot by telling them someone thinks they shouldn't read ANNE FRANK because it's a 'downer' or OUTSIDERS because the main characters all come from broken homes. I peel nonreaders off the ceiling when they think these books might be taken away from them...

A new hero for us all!

Hats off to this young educator and activist! Teaching young America to read books from one list creates a narrowed perspective that there's only one authority, one ideal, one opinion to have, etc. We need to have available books that challenge popular thinking, books with mysterious taboo events and characters, books that are real!

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Recent Comments

  • Beverly Bower: Hats off to this young educator and activist! Teaching young read more
  • Claudia Swisher: Oh my! This is priceless. I teach a class called read more
  • Michael Boraczek: If only teachers would introduce new and interesting books to read more
  • Abiodun Solanke: That some can keep exotic dangerous animals and some cannot read more
  • Mary Redman: I agree with the previous writer. This young person is read more

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