Last week, a group of fourth graders were introduced to unexpected portions of a large book collection. After the introduction, the staff asked the kids to look for something that they hadn’t yet discovered.
Staff, children’s literature specialists all, came up empty when a child requested a “band book.” When asked for any suggestions, I suggested that we look in performing arts (no), biographies of music groups (no), and no to all the novels we thought of. None were quite right.
The child seemed disappointed but was able to find another book that was at least okay.
It only occurred to me long after this encounter that there’s another kind of “band” going around that involves preventing some books from getting into children’s hands.
It seemed all too possible that the boy really wanted a “banned” book. The term is everywhere these days but do younger children really understand what it means? Frankly, I think not.
There’s a recent book that takes a lighthearted, funny, and accessible look at why giraffes, hippos, dinosaurs, avocados, and even regular old beds are banned.
This Book Is Banned by Raj Haldar with expressive, comical illustrations by Julia Patton (Sourcebooks) tackles the topic with verve and humor.
What better way to introduce a topic about which there is so much buzz but so little understanding?
I have since shared my epiphany with parents and teachers and shared Haldar’s book and have been told that it will be used as a launchpad for topics about which there may be little agreement.
Books can launch conversations that may be tough to start or even tougher to understand.