TL Library Celebrates Banned Books

Alice Wolf and Daisy Rodas

This last month, the Terra Linda High School Library celebrated their first Banned Books Week, a celebration that libraries worldwide participate in to promote books that are banned and challenged for content that is considered controversial by various school boards around the world. A few weeks ago, the library set up a display of some of these books including a description of why they are banned.

TL’s teacher librarian, Kendra Rose, talks about librarians in many districts in the United States feeling afraid to promote books that are banned and challenged at their schools, and “almost 100 percent of these books are about race, sexuality, and gender.” At TL however, no books are ever restricted or banned. “The [banned book] display has been our most popular display,” Rose continued, talking about how she has noticed students stopping to read the cards under each book and asking her questions about it.

Daisy Rodas

Kaj Kibak, an English teacher at TL, doesn’t believe that banning books completely is the answer. However, he did bring up the importance of being honest about the content in certain books as well as providing trigger warnings so students have the option to opt-out of reading a book. Kibak explained, “I want to draw a distinction between banning books and saying maybe a third grader shouldn’t read this book.” He’s very familiar with teaching banned books in his classes and believes that students should always have access to them. Kibak continued by saying it is essential to read books from different viewpoints, as “some of the books that have taught me the most, are books that I disagree the most with.”

Daisy Rodas

The banned books caught the eye of Terra Linda sophomore, Elizabeth Alfaro, who checked out The 57 Bus from the library’s display. “I was surprised to see An Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian on display since it is a book we read in school,” Alfaro remarked, talking about a book following the journey of a young Native American boy on a reservation that she read as a freshman. Marilyn Martinez, another sophomore here at TL, agreed and made a similar comment about the book Speak, a novel about a high school freshman who is sexually assaulted at a party and how she learns to use her voice again, which she studied in her English class last year. Her prior knowledge of these books shined when she joined the team of volunteers who helped set up the display. “I think it’s good to read these books because you get to learn new things,” Martinez said.

This may have been the library’s first celebration of Banned Books Week but it certainly won’t be their last! Ms. Rose and the library staff hope to continue this new tradition and expand the celebration even more in the years to come, all the while bringing light to the controversial topics within these books.