Banned Books Week 2014: Part of Literacy is Critical Thinking

Hello! Katje here. 🙂

A banned classic.

Today I want to talk about Banned Books Week. It runs from September 21st to 27th and is sponsored by a lot of organizations including the American Library Association. Hundreds of books have been challenged or banned in schools and libraries across the world, and very often they’re books aimed at kids or teens. The purpose of Banned Books Week is to bring attention to books that have been challenged or banned and to celebrate the freedom to read. Banning books may seem like an easy solution to objectionable material, but what it actually does is make the banned books more enticing and creates an environment where people are going to read them anyway, but without the proper context.

A better approach is to teach kids of appropriate age about the books and cover why they’re considered objectionable. This gives a proper context for the books without making them more enticing. It also gives kids the power to decide whether they agree with whoever found the book objectionable.

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Guest Post: Reading Readiness in the Fifties

Hello everyone! Eva here. When Katje sent me her story of how she came to be a reader, I responded with this. She asked if I wanted it to be my inaugural guest post here on Barefoot in Langley, and of course I said yes!

Book cover for Je Taimerai Toujours.Isn’t it funny, what we forget and remember? I had forgotten about Danny and the Dinosaur until Katje reminded me. I do remember how much she loved bedtime stories, especially Je t’Aimerais Toujours, which I sang to her.

I wasn’t so lucky. My father was an ex-teacher with quirky ideas. My mother was an obedient wife. I did not know this for about four decades, but he forbade my mother to teach me to read, so that I would not feel out of place with my fellow students when finally, at age six, I would be allowed to go to school. Like Katje, I was a child with early reading readiness. For some kids, that doesn’t happen until age seven but for us it came early. Unhappily for me, the doors to reading remained shut for three or four interminable years.

There weren’t many children’s books in the Fifties. My mother did not read to me before bed. Mornings, I would ask for a pencil and scribbler and invent writing for myself, wondering what the key to reading looked like. On weekends, when the color funnies came, I would sit with arms fixed wide, fingers clutching the edges of the storied pages, trying to break the code until my head ached. Surely there was a story attached to those pictures which would give me a clue!

When I was five, my mother was asked to translate for a Dutch immigrant family whose children needed to be enrolled in Donald Ross School, Edmonton. My best friend, Jean-Charles, was entering school too and I was green with jealousy. As my mother put my little sister into the stroller, I begged her, “Please, Mam, ask if I can go to school, too!” I want to believe she promised, but probably not. Off we trudged, the immigrant lot of us, the “Dirty DPs” (Displaced Persons). The principal’s desk came up to my nose and he looked enormous, hulking on its far side. As I heard the conversation drawing to a close, I jiggled my mother’s arm and whispered, “Ask him! Please!” Shame-faced, my mother related my outrageous request.

“How old is she?” he barked.

“She was five in June,” my mother quavered.

“No!” It was the first rejection of my life.

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Raise-a-Reader Day 2014: “How I Learned to Read”

Hello everyone!

Today is Raise-a-Reader day here in Canada, and I thought I would share with you all the story of how I learned to read. (Plus, later on today we have a guest post from my mom on the subject!)

A long long time ago, right here in this very galaxy and on this very planet, in a little village called Belcarra, my mom and my nanny Liza were trying to get me to read on my own and they were feeling rather disheartened.

Perhaps some background is needed.

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