The question of which books students should have access to in the classroom remains a heated debate. Books with diverse representations of race and gender are disappearing from school libraries. This is due to the fact that in recent years, a number of states have enacted a number of new laws and policies. The First Amendment is being violated by these recent laws and policies.
These new policies are impacting the classroom outside of just reading material. Teachers have to adjust to the sensitivity being presented around them. This includes filtering their messaging on curriculum, school policy and politics. Being more conscious of the current issues is essential to stay out of conflict and to avoid facing penalties and other corrective action.
Missouri has a new law that has made it illegal to give students books that contain sexually explicit material. Any official person affiliated with a public or private elementary or secondary school could be charged with a class A misdemeanor. This consists of a maximum of one year in jail and a fine of $2,000 for a violation.
Taking away books from history that talk about racism and other sensitive topics is not good for students' ability to think for themselves. Students should be able to learn about things that will affect them as adults without being told what to think. But I do think there should be limits to this. I don't think elementary school students should be taught about some of these sensitive topics, but if they are interested, they should be able to find out more with their parents' or guardians' permission.
When I was in elementary school, and sometimes in high school, we had to get permission from our parents to watch or take part in things that might be offensive to our personal thoughts and beliefs. This is a great way to do things that could help here. Some parents will agree that it's good for their kids to learn about some of these real issues, while others will disagree.
Don't tell students what they should or shouldn't know based on what you think they should know. Don't try to convince young people to think and live in a certain way. Instead, give them all the information they need to make good decisions.
Among the books being stripped off of shelves across America is a widely-known graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s Diary. I remember reading it in 8th grade and it always resonates to be a piece of literature I will always remember.
As students, we may not always like the material incorporated into our studies, but I think we have a better acceptance of the material by reading things that are real and awakening. Prior to reading about Anne Frank, I had no knowledge of captivity and what happened during the Holocaust.
Traditional textbooks paint a "pretty picture" of history, but these graphic novels paint real pictures that help us understand some of what happened.